Katelyn S. Irons is a class of 2015 PWR major.
Click clack click clack. My fingers quickly press the tops of the keys, just heavily enough to make a sound and not a letter. No letters are on the screen at all, actually. I stop when the gentleman passes by my table. Do you ever pretend to type to prove to someone you’re making progress? I do. It’s okay if you don’t want to admit it. I’m not proud of it, either.
I once had a semi-famous author tell me true writers never get writer’s block. I think what he meant was that no matter how stumped you are in one story, you should always have other ideas to work on. However, the idea that I’m not a writer if I have writer’s block has stuck in my mind. I can’t handle the thought of that.
People stare at me in this coffee shop. I’m sure of it. Their eyes mock me, saying, “You’ll never be a real writer. Look at your screen! You can’t even continue your story to a second page!”
“Shut up!” I mumble, my eyes glaring. I must look a little crazy. I chuckle to myself. No matter. Writers are supposed to be a little crazy, right? Crazy is a good thing. It adds to your creativity, right? I nod my head. I order another coffee: my fifth of the day for the use of “free” internet. The caffeine doesn’t hurt, either.
I goad myself and manage to type two sentences. I erase one and rework the other. Perfection is so close! my mind screams at me. If I could only find that word, that phrase, that beautiful expression that would make the editor tear up inside instead of tearing up my work.
The waiter brings my coffee and I look down, pretending to be deeply into what I’m typing on the screen. “Thanks,” I grunt. He places the coffee on the manuscript I have on the table and a ring appears. Serves me right for pretending, I guess. I wait until he has walked away, move the coffee, and wipe off the paper.
Another twenty minutes go by without another word being written. I’m anxious now, like a person waiting to be shot in the back. When will my writing “career” end? I ask myself. When will it all fall down in shambles? My mind swirls with familiar phrases.
“Your work was not chosen for publication.”
“We want you to know we appreciate the time and effort you put into preparing and submitting your work.”
“Without people like you, we couldn’t have a magazine. Oh, wait. Yes we could, because we don’t want you!”
My head is throbbing. Probably from the coffee, I now realize.
Writing is my life. Without it—no friends, no family—I am alone. “Completely and horribly alone!” I say out loud, a bit too loud. All of their eyes are on me again.
In the most pathetic, apologetic voice I say, “My . . . my character.” But the tears at the corners of my eyes give me away. The people around me shake their heads and go back to their newspapers.
I hate looking pathetic, but this has given me the best idea for a story. I open up a new document and start typing as fast as I can. Click clack click clack. . . .
Photograph by user Gflores on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.