where the writers are
Waiting for Godot (with apologies to Samuel Beckett)

(Two writers sit behind eight-foot tables with books neatly stacked in front of them. They face rows of empty folding chairs.)

ESTRAGON:

Nothing to be done.

VLADIMIR:

I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.

ESTRAGON:

Am I?

VLADIMIR:

I'm glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.

ESTRAGON:

Me too.

VLADIMIR:

Together again at last! We'll have to celebrate this. But how? (He reflects.) Get up till I embrace you.

ESTRAGON:

(irritably). Not now, not now.

VLADIMIR:

(hurt, coldly). May one inquire where His Highness spent the night?

ESTRAGON:

Not with poetry.

VLADIMIR:

(mock surprise). Poetry?  I should think not. Poetry is where I live!

ESTRAGON:

(without gesture). Yes, how well I know. I see your books there laid out before you. (he glances at the chapbooks in front of Vladimir)

VLADIMIR:

More likely, you hid in a story, one of your local plots. The evidence gives you away. (he raises a bony finger to point to the novels rising in front of Estragon)

ESTRAGON:

Yes, for me, the plot bears me better than those sparse words without rhythm or rhyme.

VLADIMIR:

You don't understand the heart of the poet. You run after plot while we soak in the moment.

ESTRAGON:

People don't read poetry anymore! They yearn for stories that take them from the humdrum of their ordinariness.

VLADIMIR:

(smugly) Your stories? Not from a small press with no national marketing.

ESTRAGON:

And what of it? Your little books are stapled like a school project.

VLADIMIR:

(defensively). It's a chapbook! A tradition among the non-traditional writers. We make our own books by hand, as original and unique as our words. The books are almost human. Not at all like the overworked stories of the masses.

ESTRAGON:

Ah stop blathering. You are so jealous. Look at this binding (he selects a book from the pile and weighs it in his hand) When the readers arrive you will see. They want a novel, a gripping summer read.

VLADIMIR:

They want words to inspire and open the secret places of their inner-selves. (Estragon tears at his boot.) What are you doing?

ESTRAGON:

Taking off my boot. 

VLADIMIR:

You're not going to throw it at me!

ESTRAGON:

Of course not! Why would I drive you off before you see how the readers gravitate to my fine binding and away from your staples and butterflies!

VLADIMIR:

There are no butterflies in my poems. Only in my stomach.

ESTRAGON:

It makes me queasy too, these local author signings. I wonder if I have brought enough copies, and whether my reading will touch their imaginations.

VLADIMIR:

(angrily). More like touch their wallets. You and your expensive bindings.

ESTRAGON:

You wait! When they announce that two local authors are ready to greet them and talk about the joy of writing ...

VLADIMIR:

Oh, it was announced some time ago. I must confess that when you entered, I thought you were a reader. I could read you one of my poems.

ESTRAGON:

Save yourself the trouble. Are you very sure that it was announced?

VLADIMIR:

Very. Are you sure about my not reading? A poem might awaken an idea for a story

ESTRAGON:

I have my own ideas, and the reviews are all positive. 

VLADIMIR:

And your sales?  

ESTRAGON:

Word-of-mouth takes time!

Silence.

VLADIMIR:

Yes. When they hear us read, everything will change.

Silence.

ESTRAGON:

Is that them?

VLADIMIR:

No, it's the clerk turning out the lights.

ESTRAGON:

Is the store closing?

VLADIMIR:

Apparently, but maybe the manager will come down to make arrangements to keep our books for the daytime customers. I don't think the real readers come out at night much.

ESTRAGON:

Point well taken. They would be home reading novels.

VLADIMIR:

Or poetry.

ESTRAGON:

Yes, I'll give you that. Is that the manager there?

VLADIMIR:

No, it's another clerk folding up the chairs.

ESTRAGON:

Well, shall we go?

VLADIMIR:

Yes, let's go.

They do not move.

Comments
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"Qua qua qua."

"Qua qua qua."

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Pretty good stuff, Eh?

Rob, it's good to turn the struggle into art, and humor.

Imagine Peace, Larry Smith