With That She Wrote

She sat restlessly in the office chair, idly swivelling it left and right as she mused. The word processor’s page was blank, framed by the GUI on the flat-screened monitor in front of her. The cursor, the standard blinking line, remained in the same position as when the document had been opened half an hour ago. Little things in the room were irritating her. The light from the energy efficient bulb rankled her with the tone of its luminescence. The temperature was annoyingly warm, thanks to the weather of the day, the heat-expelling desktop computer and the lack of any fans or air conditioning. The material of the office chair made her back feel hot and prickly where the back support rested. Even the computer seemed overly bright and colourful, drawing her eyes away from where she should be writing.

She’d thought about purchasing a netbook computer, setting it up to be her ‘writing PC’, with a large enough keyboard that was comfortable to write on and minimal things to distract her. Money was always the issue there though, followed by self-critique that feature creep would soon set in, resulting in a device that would distract her. A selection of music to listen to would result in flicking through tracks instead of writing. Internet access to look things up would be abused for Facebook and YouTube. IM programs to consult with writing friends would instead receive the bulk of her typing, chatting about banalities with other friends.

There was always the search for solutions. Solutions to the atmosphere and furniture. Solutions to the writing implement and its loadout of software. Solutions to what to eat and what to drink, that often left her wondering if a not-ideal diet hampered the creative process. Did the sugar and caffeine energize her, or just fuddle her brain? Did the snack foods provide sustenance and energy, or do more to expand the waistline than feed the mind? Maybe the problem wasn’t with the software or the room or the drinks, or any of the other myriad things she could come up with.

Maybe it was with herself, her own mind and body causing the distractions or the lapses in concentration rather than any external stimuli. Books on writing were nestled in the shelves, ordered from online and then flicked through briefly, their tips and information barely glanced at before being ignored for the next thing, new and shiny. Notepads for jotting down ideas had been purchased in town, and one used for a little before being set aside. The story ideas contained within only had a few turned to text, and they sat unread by others and unedited by herself in a folder on her hard drive. The works of other writers, more successful than her, sat solid in number, but scarce in those actually read from cover to cover.

It was hard to claim to be an avid reader, when she didn’t read them in any great amount. Grumbling to herself, she wondered if the same applied to writing. ‘How can you claim to be a writer, if you don’t actually write?’ She had the ideas, jumbled in her mind. Often they were half-formed, half-forgotten. Did that make her an Idea-er? One who came up with ideas aplenty yet without lacking conviction and the drive to get them onto page?

Maybe it was the mind itself. Half-firing and half-functional. Quick to give in to self-critique and waves of despair of integrity, it wouldn’t be hard to conclude that her own programming was to blame for her lack of production. ‘Maybe I should see the doctor,’ she would muse on occasion, “to see if a lack of focus and being prone to random onsets of tears are related. They have pills for that.’ She used ‘that’ in the most nebulous sense, without any qualifier of what ‘that’ might be to her. But there was always the worry.

‘Would medication placate the mind, quieting it to better write,’ she would propose in grandiose terms to herself, ‘or would it placate the ideas. Is the quantity of ideas a symptom of being unable to express them, or the cause of the inability to get them down? An overload of thought, as it were.’

Maybe such lofty debates were above her station, for it all came down to one simple question. One equation to be solved. The terms were quite simple in essence: ‘How do I write about something, when all I can think about is how I can’t write?’

And with that she wrote.


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