Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 31

For a moment I stare at her blankly. Then suddenly, with a lift of the heart, I remember. Of course! My self-help book! I’ve been meaning to do something about that.

Well, thank God. This is the answer. All I have to do is write my book really quickly and get a nice big check — and then I’ll pay all these cards off and everything will be happy again. Ha. I don’t need any stupid overdraft. I’ll start straight away. This evening!

And the truth is, I’m rather looking forward to getting down to my book. I have so many important themes I want to address in it, like poverty and wealth, comparative religion, philosophy maybe. I mean, I know the publishers have just asked for a simple self-help book, but there’s no reason why I can’t encompass broader questions too, is there?

In fact, if it does really well, I might give lectures. God, that would be great, wouldn’t it? I could become a kind of lifestyle guru and tour the world, and people would flock to see me, and ask my advice on all sorts of issues—

“How’s it going?” says Suze, appearing at my door in a towel, and I jump guiltily. I’ve been sitting at my computer for quite a while now but I haven’t actually turned it on.

“I’m just thinking,” I say, hastily reaching to the back of the computer and flipping the switch. “You know, focusing my thoughts and… and letting the creative juices meld into a coherent pattern.”

“Wow,” says Suze, and looks at me in slight awe. “That’s amazing. Is it hard?”

“Not really,” I say, after a bit of thought. “It’s quite easy, actually.”

The computer suddenly bursts into a riot of sound and color, and we both stare at it, mesmerized.

“Wow!” says Suze again. “Did you do that?”

“Erm… yes,” I say. Which is true. I mean, I did switch it on.

“God, you’re so clever, Bex,” breathes Suze. “When do you think you’ll finish it?”

“Oh, quite soon, I expect,” I say breezily. “You know. Once I get going.”

“Well, I’ll leave you to get on with it, then,” says Suze. “I just wanted to borrow a dress for tonight.”

“Oh right,” I say, with interest. “Where are you going?”

“Venetia’s party,” says Suze. “D’you want to come too? Oh, go on, come! Everyone’s going!”

For a moment I’m tempted. I’ve met Venetia a few times, and I know she gives amazing parties at her parents’ house in Kensington.

“No,” I say at last. “I’d better not. I’ve got work to do.”

“Oh well.” Suze’s face droops briefly. “But I can borrow a dress, can I?”

“Of course!” I screw up my face for a moment, thinking hard. “Why don’t you wear my new Tocca dress with your red shoes and my English Eccentrics wrap?”

“Excellent!” says Suze, going to my wardrobe. “Thanks, Bex. And… could I borrow some knickers?” she adds casually. “And some tights and makeup?”

I turn in my chair and give her a close look.

“Suze — when you decluttered your room, did you keep anything?”

“Of course I did!” she says, a little defensively. “You know. A few things.” She meets my gaze. “OK, perhaps I went a bit too far.”

“Do you have any underwear left?”

“Well… no. But you know, I feel so good, and kind of positive about life — it doesn’t matter! It’s feng shui. You should try it!”

I watch as Suze gathers up the dress and underwear and rifles through my makeup bag. Then she leaves the room and I stretch my arms out in front of me, flexing my fingers. Right. To work.

I open a file, type “Chapter One,” and stare at it proudly. Chapter One! This is so cool! Now all I have to do is come up with a really memorable, striking opening sentence.

I sit quite still for a while, concentrating on the empty screen in front of me, then type briskly,

Finance is the

I stop, and take a sip of Diet Coke. Obviously the right sentence takes a bit of honing. You can’t just expect it to land straight in your head.

Finance is the most

God, I wish I were writing a book about clothes. Or makeup. Becky Bloomwood’s Guide to Lipstick.

Anyway, I’m not. So concentrate.

Finance is something which

You know, my chair’s quite uncomfortable. I’m sure it can’t be healthy, sitting on a squashy chair like this for hours on end. I’ll get repetitive strain injury, or something. Really, if I’m going to be a writer, I should invest in one of those ergonomic ones which swivel round and go up and down.

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