Story of the Writer, Chapter 224

A particularly unusual day. One of Bernard’s colleagues (twice removed, according to business line structure), known around the office simply as Jim, talked to Bernard for the first time.

“Hey, I don’t think we’ve met before! I’m Jim.”

“Hey; I’m Bernie.” Bernard tried to keep from making eye contact. He failed.

“What do you do, Bernie?” Jim asked, oh-so-brightly.

“Me? Oh, I just take requests and process them.”

Jim laughed. “No, you poor thing, I mean what do you do! Do you play any sports?”

“Oh, I’m a writer.”

“A writer! That’s fantastic! What do you write?”

“Uh, I dabble in this and that, bit of prose, some other stuff…”

“That’s so cool,” said Jim. “What are you writing at the moment?”

“I keep myself busy,” Bernard said; “I’m in the middle of working on a new story at the moment.” He snatched a glance at his watch and then dropped his most agitated expression. “Ah, I’ve got to get back to work! See you around, okay?”

“Sure! Keep me posted about the writing and stuff, I’d love to read some.”

Bernard hurried away.


Hours later, in 2.30am darkness at his computer, Bernard gazed hollowly at the monitor. He trawled slowly through story files and blog posts. He revisited his blog. His shoulders hunched.

The blog interface provided him with a cordial greeting: “It seems you haven’t written a post in over 200 days! Click here to get started.”

From the kitchen (through two closed doors and a long hallway), a set of well-kept kitchen knives whisper: “Bernard, Bernard, Bernard…”

Bernard snorts. “Like I’ll fall for that again.”



A New Year

I left my site to stew through the waning of 2015 with something of a dramatic post at its head; this was partially on purpose, certainly, to emphasize the dramatic stance I took, but it was slightly because I was (like you were as well, I imagine) busy with family and friends and taking a general break from things. And now, life goes on again. It’s a new year! What does that mean for you?

I can tell you that in ancient European cultures (my favorite), the new year didn’t seriously start until winter started to melt away. It’s kind of funny that the year ends in the middle of a season, but who am I to argue with the established calendar? Okay, don’t answer that; my wife will tell you that I follow the good old tradition of men in that I can be muleishly stubborn and argue just about anything.

But with the date/calendar aside, a new year can mean several things. For some countries, it means the end of the tax year (public servants scrambling backwards and forwards and poring through data for hours on end). For others, it simply marks a time of massive sales (salespeople scrambling backwards and forwards and poring through data for hours on end). Some people recognize the new year as a sacred tradition stemming back from books and oral traditions as far back as the beginning of history itself. Others like to drink but haven’t got a clue what the fuss is about if they aren’t holding a bottle. A lot of people take down their old calendars and put up new ones. Some people make new year resolutions. A few keep them.

So what does the new year mean to you?

I personally like to think of the new year as a time to celebrate the coldest winter days (also the shortest days of light) of the year where candles and fires were lit and feasts were made and stories were told while people celebrated yuletide, which was a twelve-day celebration marking and celebrating the passing of the thickest stage of winter. I’m old-fashioned and somewhat romantic that way. The irony, though, is that I presently live in Australia. In other words, the new year marks the longest and hottest days of the year and there are usually total fire bans. It’s funny living in Australia when you’ve got British/Norse blood.