Laura woke with a start. She instinctively picked the small alarm clock on the bedside table and brought it close to her eyes. The thick red lines spelled out 8.30 am. She looked lazily around the room. The heavy green curtains were still drawn across the French doors that opened to the balcony. The little light that managed to filter through couldn’t give her a hint of how bright it was outside.
He stood on the grass, near the boundary wall, facing the building he had left just a minute earlier. He looked into the sky beyond the house. Dark clouds were moving in fast and menacingly from the west. Intermittent flashes of lightning tore across the horizon and the subsequent prolonged rumbles of thunder shook the very ground. Why he had come out here at this time of the night, he had no idea. He had just felt the urge to do it.
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.