11/23 Chapter 2
“Writing and moving on have one common: easier said than done.”
Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.
The ticking of the clock was driving Jhing crazy even though the TV from the neighborhood was ear piercing. She can even hear all the way from her room how chaotic the two actresses fight for the male lead.
Still, it’s not enough.
She needed more time.
For Jhing, writing was easy. She knew she was born to weave letters and words, forming powerful sentences to delicate paragraphs, as each resembles life, and stories to be told.
But after she opened her laptop, clicked the MS word, and touched the keyboard with her fingers….. Jhing blanked out.
No words came out from her fingertips as if her veins decided to not bleed the time when she needed it the most.
The first few days of writing ended up in the trash bin. She had a few raw plots, some were from ages ago. All she needed to do is to rearrange all the ideas to make it a real story.
Like a chef, she needed to cook food using all the ingredients on hand; but in the middle of trying to cook, Jhing started throwing all the ingredients out in frustration.
“It’s probably writer’s block.”
When having writer’s block, which some people call ‘laziness,’ Jhing would binge-watch her favorite series… or maybe read a book; but that takes too much effort so she ended up watching one of her favorite series instead.
After a season and a half— Jhing’s brain is still not working properly.
Two weeks left before the deadline, and still, blank.
[I just need my second half and I’ll be done.] Fall answered when Jhing asked how her Novella was doing.
Fall wasn’t the greatest multitasker ever. She’s also not the type to have a long attention span. The reason why Jhing asked Fall was to hear the words‘I haven’t even started.’ They would then high five each other for becoming a cramming comrade for the deadline.
Jhing ended up disappointed.
No high fives for you, Jhing.
[I haven’t started mine yet.] Jhing admitted.
She was ashamed. Jhing has the time! She’s brimming with ideas! Her home is even the closest one to the company and the editors, and yet here she was… doing nothing.
[Why!?] Fall asked.
[I have lots of ideas but… I still can’t write ah. I already wrote and deleted for four times now. How were you able to write half of your manuscript so quick?]
Even if they were only talking through chat, Jhing can feel the pride leaking our from Fall when she said, [Outline! Try writing one cheat sheet per chapter until you reach the ending so you won’t get lost.]
[That’s too controlled ah.] she typed, [My ideas will be limited if I do it like that.]
And as a writer, no one wants to write with restriction. Every writer wants freedom.
[Dummy! Just use it as a guide! It’s fine if you don’t follow the story as it is, okay?]
[What’s the use of the outline if you don’t follow it anyway?]
A GIF of a girl rolling eyes animatedly was what she got as a reply. She could almost hear Fall’s voice saying, [Are you kidding me?]
That’s what she tried to do.
And nope. Still nothing.
Frustrated, and coffee in her hand, Jhing stared blankly at the door of the elevator the next workday. She was also in a daze as she traveled to the higher floor where her office is. Jhing sat on her chair and glanced at the one and only family picture she had which was almost covered by the notes on the corkboard.
“Huh? Is there a funeral today?”
Jhing doesn’t need to turn her head to find out who owns that bubbly voice— July, her co-editor. While checking her email, Jhing tried to smile at her.
“Girl, it looks creepy!”
Jhing quickly frowned at her words which made July laughed louder. She just ignored that crazy person as she opens the latest manuscript she needed to edit. Jhing’s currently working on page 43. She was devastated when she saw the 300 plus pages waiting for her.
Fine! I know that! I know that I’m not a princess, but he’s also not a prince anyway ah?! I just wanted a fairy tale. I just wanted a happy ending to our story. Is there something wrong with that?! I ‘m only in love! We’re only loving each other but why does the world keep ruining it?! We already did everything but why, why can’twe have a happily ever after?!!!!
Aahhh! It’s deafening!
If this was a paper, there’s a huge possibility that Jhing will set this manuscript on fire. During the few months of her training as an editor to the company who published her own works, Jhing found out one of her pet peeves.
Shouting! Voices! All! Over! The! Manuscript! It! Hurts!
As she corrected the punctuation marks and toned down the ‘shouting voice!’of the narration, July giggled after Jhing posted a comment.
The exclamation point (ssssss!!!!) make the story childish, my eyes are bleeding pls stop.
Note: Dear Jhing, delete this comment after.
“If you forget to delete that note before sending it back to the author, you’ll get killed.”
Jhing sighed, finally changing the comment to: ‘Replaced the (!) with (.) for better reading experience, and it looks more professional to use (.).’
“Better,” July said.
“We should also tell them how to fix their stories.”
“You know humans, giving a bit of a negative feedback will get their butthurt.”
Jhing held her head in pain as she replied, “My eyes felt butthurt because of them, even my head stings.”
She wasn’t really the joker type of a person. Her humor wasn’t just dry, it’s already long dead.
Ohh, at one time, that particular guy said she had no humor and she laughed because it’s true and—oh, shit.
Nevermind, it doesn’t matter.
The point is, it’s either Jhing’s humor got resurrected or July just laughs at everything.
“What’s wrong with you? You look cranky.”
Or July just wanted to laugh at Jhing’s crankiness.
“Nothing.” Jhing sipped her coffee, trying to drown herself in anger.
“Ows? Seriously, what happened?”
With hesitation, Jhing peered at their surroundings. Everyone has their own bubble. Most of them are chatting leisurely because the bosses are in a meeting.
Defeated and frustrated, she confessed, “I haven’t started my novella yet.”
July frowned. “Why not? I was even excited to edit yours!”
“I can’t write anything. Writer’s block.”
As Jhing thought about what she did this past week, ie: nothing… she felt really weak. This is a big project. To be part of this project was a good thing, your novella have a chance to get a movie adaption.
Once picked, she’ll be one step closer towards her goal to become wealthy. She could then buy all the things she wanted after giving her siblings a bright future and her Mom a good life.
But look at her brain getting emptied out.
That bright future? It became dark as the night.
“Did you try writing a story based on a real-life experience?”
And with that being said, his face instantly appeared inside her mind—that goofy smile on his face that she wanted to forget… Jhing started choking on her coffee.
“Real-life? Experience? And what more, romance? I don’t have anything like that.”
Of course, July didn’t believe her. “Nothing at all? Not one bit? Even if it’s just a mere half romance?”
Shit. That man keeps running through her mind!!!! It can’t be! Jhing quickly drinks her coffee once again. She almost spilled the drink all over her clothes but she didn’t notice it at all.
At break time, Jhing didn’t join the others for lunch out to try outlining her Novella. She started writing the first chapter and typed:
Strangers, life of guy and a girl who intersected at the coffee shop at this particular time. Few days, weeks and accidental stares after, the guy finally stood up from his usual place, went to the girl, and said ‘hi.’
Jhing felt her eyes blurred for staring at Word for a long time trying to continue what she started.
The total word count was 48, including the ‘Chapter 1.’
50 words, okay?
That includes the ‘Chapter 2.’
“How is it?” July asked.
Jhing shook her head. “I’m blanking out ah.”
Before going back to her station, July whispered, “Real life experience” which stayed on Jhing’s mind as days passed.
Before going to bed, Jhing will unconsciously stare at the box. She struggles to stop herself from picking it up and… inflict more bleeding stitches on her heart.
Instead of writing, she always finds herself crying every night without knowing the reason why. Maybe frustration. Maybe disappointment. Maybe… she just hated herself, and the box and that guy and again, herself.
Jhing’s face screamed ‘I cried last night and it was not a pretty sight’ every next morning, which almost all her co-workers saw but didn’t bother to ask why… not until July saw the puffy, red eyes, and nose and blushing cheeks.
“Makeup, beaten up, or heartbroken?”
Instead of answering, Jhing focused on her screen. She couldn’t count how many times she has read the manuscript that’s giving her headaches right now.
We tried to escape from the mansion while holding hands running through the hallway that was really quiet I was worried because her mother might hear us and erase the blush that appeared on my cheeks because of how he tightly holds my fingers my heart is also beating so loud when he look at me and saw me smiling so I scolded him “what’s your problem” he looks at our hands and quickly released it he looked really cute being shy and blushing kyaaaaa!!!!
“What the hell!” Jhing screamed as she massages her forehead, “Where’s the period? I feel like being murdered whenever I read this.”
“How can I chill if I publish this sentence that seems to never end?”
“That’s why you’re here to edit.”
Jhing rolled her eyes. “I should just re-write it.”
July shooked her head while smiling, “Been there, done that. Not going to do it again.”
As a reply, Jhing grunted.
This was her dream! She knew her life was dedicated into words, sentences and emotions in between, that’s why even though Jhing doesn’t have a diploma in writing or language, she instantly grabbed the opportunity that appeared before her.
Writing stories, learning, and editing while earning cash?
A win-win situation.
But reading manuscripts over and over again, trying to correct mistakes after mistakes, a few authors getting butthurt with the comments, was a lot harder than she thought it was. She felt her blood boiling in anger.
Especially to those authors who seem to want to steal their editor’s breaths because they don’t use any periods or commas in their sentences. It’s not even funny. It’s just making her life difficult ah!
Jhing understands: the first draft will be a jejemon. But how can the author let her suffer like this? They leave it as a mess and quickly sends it to her because they’re so excited for their stories to get published.
Who cares about the editing process?
Jhing rants while she’s editing. She admits that the story has potential, it only needs polishing.
A very thorough and deep polishing.
Jhing went home exhausted and a problem, still in her head: Novella Project. Deadline.
To ease her mind, she started writing comments on Wattpad notifications. The genuine comments make her smile, it’s her favorite. Some posted ‘cliffhanger,’ ‘update!’ and ‘author why is it taking you so long to post the new chapter so frustrating why are you like this.’
She wanted to reply:
WOW. Try to write and work, can you do it? I need to work. I need to bring food to the table. You don’t know how frustrating to delete everything I’ve written because it’s not enough. Updates. Novella, and that box. That guy! And me! What’s MY problem? I feel really childish right now!
Of course, she ended up deleting the whole thing.
You should not pay them any attention, Jhing, it’s not worth it.
Jhing starts concentrating on the words her characters are whispering in her ears. She needed to choose! She only has a few days left! But which voice will she listen to? Which stories will she introduced? What kind of event will be hard for her to throw in the trash bin?
Real life experience?
Can Facebook chat be considered ‘real life’?
Jhing hid the box when her brain screamed ‘It’s a trap! Hide!’ but as she held it again, memories came rushing.
It’s really a trap. But can she hide from it forever?
She looks at the white book on her hands taunting her.
In the end, Jhing finally gave in.
She regretted it instantly because the first page already made her break into a cold sweat.
The title was handwritten: It Started with Seenzoned.
Below the title, there was a drawing of two marshmallow-like cuties. The girl is holding the sign ‘The Writer’ while the boy has ‘The Stranger.’
She skimmed the pages to avoid emotional damage. Her eyes are almost closing to stop herself from looking at the drawings, scenarios and conversations.
The skimming stopped at the page before the last one which made Jhing’s tears started falling… continuously.
It was their last talk, her last favor.
Her wrong move.
On that page, the two characters were on their computer as their backs face each other.
Let’s stop chatting for a while.
Are you angry?
Editing is really hard… I need to focus on my work first?
At 365th day, I’ll come back at 23:11.
Do you want me to help you?
That’s still a long way to go ah…
Just because. Do you trust me?
After 43 days, we’ll talk again.
. . .
Another page flipped. At the center of this page, the guy is holding a paper.
‘HAPPY FIRST YEAR OF SEENZONING!’
And on the last page was the same guy cartoon but he wasn’t holding the paper anymore… he dropped it on the floor.
And instead of the goofy and smiling face, this one– it’s just staring.
Back at Jhing.
With an empty feeling.
The others were illustrated, but this particular drawing was hand drawn via pen.
There was also something written at the very corner. It was so small that Jhing almost missed it.
The words were written messily… and the ink was smudged.
I trusted you…
Whether it was tears that smudged the ink, or other stuff– Jhing’s hoping, praying, and thinking that it was hers and not that guy’s.
Jhing closed her eyes and breathed.
To get away from pain, she writes stories. This serves as a diversion and relaxation. Jhing did it in the past, she can do it again to move on. That’s why to forget the memories she wants to throw away…
Jhing wrote everything and shared it to the world.
So at exactly 23:11, she started writing her novella– about a girl writer, a weird stranger, and how everything started with a seenzoned.
She’s hoping that after writing this, she’ll be able to move on.
Not until the next day came where it seemed like a zombie entered the building.
Jhing stayed up so late at night. She also cried as she wrote so it’s not a surprise for her to turn into a monster. With bloodshot eyes, she walks towards the elevator and noticed the doors slowly shutting.
This monster quickly chased it….. only to stop halfway and decided not to go inside.
Jhing stared at the closed door, hoping– hoping it was only her imagination.
She spent the midnight writing about her, him, and their 23:11’s.
It’s just a hangover.
Her mind’s just playing with her when she saw his familiar face, right?