I remember a time, which now seems shrouded in the mists of the past, when I couldn’t go a waking hour without logging onto Facebook to check my friends’ status updates and share my own, when the green dot that showed someone else was online and ready to chat gave me an adrenaline rush.
“What does it take to write a story that punches, Joe?”
“A pen, a piece of paper, working fingers, and a brain that’s at least half-functional.”
“Of course not. Only someone who’s never written anything that punches would take that as solid advice. By Jove, I haven’t used a pen to write anything since high school… The true answer is that I don’t really know.”
Jane was shouting. She liked to say that she was born with a more powerful throat-mounted amplifier than most people. She said she got it from her mother, whose booming voice had been her most outstanding characteristic.
“Oh, you look so beautiful, my darling.”
“Thanks, grandma. You know whose fault it is though.”
“You flatter me, darling. These old bones are fit for nothing but the grave.”
“I won’t have any of that talk grandma, not today. You know you’ve got centuries left in there.”
What do you do when, for the third time in a row, you don’t have a substantive article to post on your blog? Do you silently let it slide, and thus avoid fulfilling your obligation to post every week? Or do you, guiltily, but even more silently, write about exactly that problem one more time?
I meant to publish a different article this week. A long, convoluted and very sad piece… but I didn’t finish it in good time to put it up today. That’s despite the fact that I started writing it at the beginning of the year and that it has taken many hours of work already.
My computer screen almost won the staring match today. You know, the match I engage in with it every time I sit down to write. I look at it, and it looks right back at me. We stare down each other. Sometimes for mere seconds. Other times, for hours.
In my first article of this year, I made a terribly daring promise to myself. I said I would post an article on my blog (this very website) every week for the whole of 2020. At the time I made that commitment, it was not in the least obvious to me that I would come even close to achieving it.
He had been cheating on her. He had been doing it for over a year. She had always known. But they had never talked about it. Neither of them dared bring it up. Him, for reasons she could only guess at. Her, because she could not bring herself to believe it. She could not confront that reality, so she dismissed the thought every time it occurred to her.
When he woke up, he was enveloped in thick darkness. There was dust in the air. It grated against his throat with every breath. He felt something shuffle next to him. Then his name was whispered. Softly. A name came into his mind. Leyla. He reached out his hand in the darkness. It got arrested midway. Something metallic clinked. A chain?