Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)
TITLE: Writer's Block
By Patrick Oden
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I chose to write early in the morning because the stillness of pre-dawn offered no other distractions. In the quiet I could hear the gears of my mind moving, slowly creaking and straining before jumping into full action. Words would then begin jumping through the synapses, and plots would reveal themselves from the fog. I would write almost nonstop for a few hours, before an alarm told me it was time to get ready for my work. My paying work that is.
On October 8th, I woke up around 5:30 and did the same as usual. I woke up and had my juice. Then began to write. I was developing a secondary character, an old flame and now foil of my somewhat portly detective, and thought I would give a really appropriate description of her suburban town house – decorated in a neo-nouveau motif.
After about four pages, front and back, my body reminded me I had neglected to use the restroom. And not one to argue with that particular persistent suggestion I put down my pen and danced my way down the hall.
When I returned everything was as I had left it. The pages were on my desk. The pen was next to the pages. The room was neat and tidy. Beethoven's Seventh was playing on the stereo. There was one exception. A rather big one. The pages on the desk were completely blank. Not a word or spot of ink to be found.
Did I dream I was writing? My fingers felt tired, but maybe that was psychosomatic.
I looked around but soon had to go to work. I looked some more when I got home that evening. Nothing had changed. I was baffled. So, I went to bed.
The next morning I put down my pen after four and a half pages, massaged my eyes and leaned back in my chair. When I looked down again the pages were blank. All of them. Five pages were on top of my desk. Not a single mark on them.
I reached for the phone and made an emergency appointment with my doctor for later that day. He told me nothing was wrong.
For five days this happened. On the sixth day I resolved to not look away. I called in sick. But I blinked. It was all gone in a blink.
On the seventh day I stopped trying. It was too frustrating.
A few months later I woke up early before church. I turned on my computer. I wrote for hour, saved the file, closed it, then opened it up again. The page on the screen was blank.
This was seven years ago. The dream was officially dead. I haven't written a word since. Well, not until today at least.
Yesterday, a friend of mine came over and we talked about our dreams and careers. I let slip that when I was younger I wanted to be a writer.
“What happened to that dream,” she asked.
“Let me show you,” I replied and led her to my now dusty desk.
I opened the drawer and showed her the stack of blank pages.
She reached in and pulled out the stack, then sat down in the overstuffed chair by the window. I was surprised by how long she stared at the pages, each in turn.
“This is beautiful,” she said. “You could publish this. Did you ever send it off?”
“Of course not,” I laughed. “Blank verse is out of fashion.”
“What do you mean?” she asked. “This is amazing.”
Then she began to read. She began to read what I had written seven years ago. From her lips came words I vaguely remembered as coming from my pen.
“Give me those,” I said, grabbing at the stack. The pages were still blank. “You can see something?”
“Sure, you're a great writer. I can see a lot here. Except for a few grammatical problems, it's really good.”
I emailed the empty file to some other friends that afternoon. They emailed back telling me how encouraging it was.
Because of that I sat down and wrote this morning. Of course, now I really do need an editor to help me fix those occasional grammar problems. I just don't see them, after all.
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