#NotWriting: I, Morning Writer

Steven Ramirez


This morning, I fumigated my apartment. I was up early, before the sun, the cars, the first flight out to Denver, with every intention of beginning my novel—I have the perfect opening sentence, dazzling really, one of those rare combinations of form and content that will no doubt write the next three-hundred and ninety-nine pages for me—but before I could crack open my laptop, before I could commit my King Kong chunk of prose to virtual paper, there it was. Out the corner of my eye. The nastiest little SOB to ever crawl its however-many-legs out the crack in my floor.

This could not stand. So I put aside my sentence (which, I can admit now, has changed slightly, that is to say, the way I originally saw it, but only a little. I’m talking the shift of a prepositional phrase from one end to another, a matter of pacing, nothing, really) and I made for the bug spray. The bug spray. I could’ve sworn I owned bug spray. Oh well. A paper towel would have to do, the flat of a calloused thumb against my invader’s spindly body.

Listen. I get no joy in killing spiders. Or insects. Or anything for that matter. But this, you have to understand, is no way to write. Cold coffee, a library in disarray, unsigned divorce papers, half-smoked cigarettes, a moldy robe—such things can be romanticized, sexy even, depending on what Hollywood actor is portraying the disgusting/brilliant writer in question. But vermin? No, no, no. My craft has zero room for vermin.

So I did the deed, and when I was finished, when I’d tossed the paper towel, rinsed the mustard goo from the edge of my thumb, I stepped into the nearest pair of pants, wrestled into a sweater, and it was off to the nearest 24-hour convenient store, where a tired employee named SAL, nearing the end of his graveyard shift, fished out a can of the good stuff, the cross-and-bones stuff, the wipe-these-creatures-from-the-face-of-the-earth stuff. Because there would be more, we could both agree. These things rarely travel alone. Then, upon noticing I was in fact not wearing shoes (shoes, shoes, I could’ve sworn I had shoes), SAL asked, “What are you doing up this early anyway?”

Writing, I told him. Morning is when I write.

Steven Ramirez is a writer living in Chicago. His fiction, "Five Movie Endings," first appeared in North American Review 295.3. His work has since been published in the Blue Mesa Review, Indiana Review, Puerto Del Sol, Lumina, Santa Fe Literary Review, and PANK magazine, among others. He is currently at work on his first novel. You may find Steven on Twitter, @StevenLRamirez.

Daryl Alexsy is today's featured artist. She currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany, where she finds the walks along the canals to be "particularly powerful." Daryl's art, "The Career Handler," appears in issue 297.4.