Here he comes, here he goes,
Heard him coming, Those rattling bones,
Too long hands, too long beard,
Smells of rot, Vile when near,
I heard him a coming, I twas afeared.
-The Child of the Ferryman
There is no feeling worse, than sitting at your computer trying to write. The children are at school, the spouse is out (oh c’mon. There is no spouse. Or children.) Even the animals are settled. There is nothing and no one to blame the blank screen on. Except yourself. The struggle to drag the story from deep within your mind and rip it out of your soul onto the page. All you have is a mild headache from staring at the screen too long and an incessant inner voice whose sarcasm and quick wit does nothing for your confidence.
It is little wonder the author becomes a master of creating jobs. Suddenly the dishes need doing. All of them. Even the ones already in the cupboard. In fact, the cupboard needs emptying, wiping out, repainting, sealing, actually let’s renovate the kitchen, I mean we’re halfway there anyway and it was due to be done in…oh, about 20 years.
The lure to abandon your own story, to walk away from deciding what happens in the world that lives and dies by your mind, is strong. So many other stories have been made by people who, as your inner voice constantly reminds you, are far more skilled than you are. They’ve had years more practice. Publishers and fans alike help battle their inner critique daily. It feels as if while you sit here alone, fingers tapping random keys and hoping to be the monkey in the infinite room who writes Shakespeare, they are blitzing through the next novel surrounded by loving family, friends, fans…and a sparkling new kitchen.
Such struggles are compounded when those who work the nine to five complain ceaselessly of how hard it is, all the while going out for lunch during work hours, or sitting at their desks doing the crosswords. The writer bites back envy at such lives. How cruisy to have a stable income, a superfund, set hours of clocking on and off with clearly defined times for work and play. For a writer has none of these. The story doesn’t politely behave in set hours. We must capture the spark and keep it alive long enough to burn the image into page. This can occur at an appropriate time. Or far more likely when in the shower with no means to write it down before the golden lines flee. Or from the deepest of sleeps we are awoke from the language dreams have spoken, so strong that some part of us drags the body into consciousness to find a page in the dark and scribble down the fleeting story, only for the sun to rise and reveal the scribbles overlap into an unreadable mess.
A writer knows hunger. We crave stories like an addict their drug. Our stomachs are forgotten, our partners dismissed, while we throw ourselves at the muse, desperate for her kiss.
Sometimes, when the stars align and the padlock has us trapped in our room, we sit at the computer and the keys tap in the sweetest of melodies. Words fill the empty space, line after line, scene after scene, tale after tale. It is the most delicious of tastes, the victory over language, the knowledge your idea has been well told. So strong is the high even as the final words are written you cannot stop. Another word, then another. Line after line, time after time, you become joined with the keyboard. No longer are “your fingers” hitting “the keys”. They are all one, all part of you as your physical self ceases to be. The aches in your neck, the arthritis joints, they are gone, replaced with only what the mind sees as it describes a world that has never been. These are the days we live for. These are the moments that make our presence on this planet worthwhile.
Do you feel the same dear reader?