Oh fuck up, man! Just when I thought I could take a break from writing, I see James Franco’s grin. The grin sits there like the face on that man from the silent movie that doesn’t exist anymore. You know the picture?
I can’t remember the man’s name or the movie’s, but if you do something like google for the picture of the inspiration for The Joker, you’ll find it. James Franco is grinning like that right now as he out-writes me. (see: collection of short stories and now a new novel)
The problem is, the modern writer no longer resides in a cave of solitude devoid of human contact and free of distractions, tapping away with feverish abandon on a typewriter going ratta-tat. If anyone nowadays is using a typewriter, it’s more than likely a skinny, pale person who wears scarves in ninety degree weather, and when they use that typewriter they’re going to be sitting on a park bench at high noon–because reasons.
I know this because–internet, and that’s because the modern writer uses a computer, and with that computer comes all the delicious distractions facebook peeking and tweet-checking and insta-browsing offers. Web-crastination taste outlets are endless and are pretty much as unique for each person as a fingerprint, resulting in every red-blooded writer having that ONE thing online that is always sitting in front of their faces as a distraction.
For me, it’s the Green Goblin–and the man’s relentless! I mean come on, I’m trying to get things written and edited and he’s there on instagram and twitter interacting with fans, making kinda creepy short videos, and writing rather shady reviews of awesome movies like “12 Years a Slave”.
I haven’t read James Franco’s novel yet. Honestly, I can’t say what his writing is like. He could be Hemingway for all I know. Everyone could be wrong about him, blind with jealousy over his celebrity getting him a book deal when in reality, his stories stand alone without the name. What if James Franco was Hemingway?
People tell me to love Hemingway, and I’ve tried to but I can’t. I don’t like his characters or his stories or even his writing style and that pretty much makes me ignorant. The last straw in every Hemingway argument I’ve ever had is always the other person who tells me, “But you’re a cat person! Hemingway loved cats!” As if there is an unspoken rule that cat people must unquestionably approve of each other.
“Oh my God!” I always say, “Hemingway shot one when he got irritated with it!”
(To be fair, I don’t know if that is even true. A quote from another writer who didn’t like Hemingway mentions the dead cat story, and since Hemingway was always fighting with other writers, someone could very well have made that up.)
Would James Franco kill a cat? He recently devoted a day of his instagramming and re-gramming to celebrate the internet’s fetish for cats and one of his most popular regrams was actually a photograph of the man Hemingway cuddling his nearly feral feline friends. This is probably the proof I should acknowledge that Hemingway DIDN’T shoot one of his cats, but that really doesn’t cross my mind because the POINT IS I like James Franco more than Hemingway.
I don’t have time for men. I just drive them to drink. I try to make the most of that, though, like telling myself my life is swanky and mental hospitals are cool. Which is probably why I don’t like Hemingway in the end, because he represents manhood–and Hemingway man-creatures do things like fight really big fish to the death in a dinky boat to remind themselves of manhood.
I’m the daughter of a drinker, which seems to mean I like boys who hurt me. It’s a shit lot to saddle oneself with I tell myself as I drink tea that is half cream and demerara sugar.
I like the demerara sugar because it makes me think of how my Yorkshireman uncle shakes his head and mutters, “Ruination.” See, my uncle is a structured man, the sort a drinker or a man-boy could never be, so I strive to displease, and I do so with all the magnificent self-destructive witchery of any daddy’s girl with a penchant for enabling vices. As I do this, I tell myself I write better with the thought of displeasing someone under my belt.
So as internet distractions build and as writer’s block swells, I mull over the millions of way I love displeasing men in my head.
That makes me sound like a horrible man-hater, which I’m not really, I’m more of a structure hater, and that’s just a fancy way of glossing over the fact that I’m rather lazy and can’t be arsed to do things professionally seventy five percent of the time.
So I scroll over the pics of the latest famous internet cat, or gaze at pictures of James Franco photo-shopped into ALL THE BOOK COVERS, or flirt with guys on Twitter, and fantasize about going out in public and building some sort of Rube-Goldberg machine of doom to release upon the general public because obviously that would give me something to write about.
Would James Franco like to play games with me? Would he ever stage a brutal domestic fight with me in public, with both of us running just as soon as someone arrived to play hero? Would he ever play the part of the abusive older brother as I pretended to be mentally ill, and then we would run off just as someone arrived to play hero? It isn’t hard to bring a stranger into a game.
I do it on my own a lot, like when a telemarketer calls and I play a distraught five year old who doesn’t know where her mommy is. The telemarketer gets to assume the role of responsible adult, and be a hero. It can’t be a bad game in the end. I hope James Franco would approve.
I find myself wondering what he does when he gets writer’s block. What with him starring in movies, taking classes, teaching classes, and even taking on a role as a serial killer in a soapie on a whim as if to say “Look at me, I can sit in a class next to your daughter AND prance on television scaring your mother ALL AT THE SAME TIME”, one wonders how he even gets the chance to write.
I suppose he’s just fortunate enough to fill in dry writing spells with all sorts of fabulous life and learning experiences that would inevitably jog the creative juices anew.
Or is he a fella who is super passionate about his writing, and for him, pulling words and sentences out of his brain and heart affect him like it affects all of us other lowly writers? Did he bleed himself into his characters and phrases, figuratively wounding himself as grievously as the man he played in 127 Hours. Oooo…. 127 Hours….
I’m kinda digressing (distraction time eeee!) but James Franco is sexiest when he’s severing that arm nerve. The blood spurting, splashing, sticky, dribbling, dripping, and smeared to reveal that final prize–the vulnerable nerve.
When he first tickled the skin with the first scratches of the blade, I’m not sure if he knew he’d hit right at the heart of every woman who’d ever been an angsty teenage girl hidden in long sleeves who never thought she could love. Blood holds no mystery for women, even the ones who say they fear it, and the love I have for James Franco severing his own arm is equalled only by my love for Christian Bale in say, like, all of American Psycho (even the part where he stomps on the dog.)
James Franco could write me letters in blood with the arm he still has left. He could enclose a section of the severed nerve and I would smile and say, “Aw!” I’d probably never write back, because no good could come of a letter war in which the senders try to up each other in blood and body parts. I’d like a letter like that, though, because then the blood would be mine. All mine.
James Franco should really worry right about now.
I bet he’s smiling, though.
And I reeeeally should get back to writing.
P.S. (this essay was written when I was insomniac, buzzed on whiskey, and trapped in a hotel-room in Glasgow and if James Franco ever actually reads this, just know, that I am not sitting around waiting for bloody letters in the mail ! Eeeek! )
Cee Martinez is a tea swigging cat lady without a cat. She lives in a china cabinet in Golden, Colorado writing fictions and lies. If she likes you maybe she’ll let you sit with her a wee while. A number of her short stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines in print and online and her first novel “Antipathia” is onsale now.