Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Storytelling Volume 1
This week I seem to have been hit in the head by a big, ugly writer's block. It happens, even to the most prolific of writers, or so I'm told. In my defense, I have churned out two short fiction pieces for writing contests in the last few weeks as well as a soon to be published blog on a site I've recently become a contributing writer for, The Wing Girl Method. In light of this week's lack of inspiration for my own blog, I thought I'd at least share a little of my fiction writing with you. I wrote this piece a few years ago - it's more character driven than plot heavy, my little homage to a very creative mind I know, and interestingly enough, about writer's block. I'm sure I'll be back in full form next week, but in the meantime, enjoy!
New York Boy
The bluish white glow from the small screen of the laptop computer dimly lit the face of the young man as he sat hunched over the keyboard. The hazy glow barely permeated the pitch black of the basement apartment he shared with an army of water bugs and at least one mouse, who seemed to be a part-time resident. Where the mouse went on vacation, the young man was never quite sure. Maybe a time share in the Florida Keys. Maybe he went there with the water bugs, who also took a winter hiatus from sharing the tiny kingdom that the young man called home.
But now it was summer, so his studio apartment was fully inhabited by all its tenants. And it was late, far past the witching hour and yet still time to go before the sun would begin its morning route across the sky. But the young man rarely slept, so it was fitting that he live in the city that never sleeps. A city of skyscrapers and taxicabs and Broadway shows.
His long fingers tapped the keys, the noise a comfortable reminder that the words were coming, flowing out of his mind and into the computer. A thin line of sweat trickled down his back, a reminder of the sticky humidity that was the mark of a New York summer. He paid no attention, dressed only in a pair of boxers and white socks to combat the heat, he had long learned to ignore the sweaty discomfort, knowing that his reward at the end of writing would be a long, refreshing shower before he settled into bed.
He was the picture of a young artist if there ever was one. Lean and angular, good looking in that way that catches you off guard as if you weren’t expecting it, but suddenly finding that you can’t ignore it. And yet, in that moment, still quirky, with hair standing on end, impervious to gravity without the aid of styling products, and eyes slightly bloodshot from the late hour and the long evening at his thankless job.
A job that had simply come after thousands of other jobs and before the next job. It didn’t really matter what he did, it was simply a way to get to that place, the place where he knew he would be one day. He saw it in his head and knew it in his heart, and so he stayed up late and forced the words to come, sometimes screaming at the roadblocks, determined to tell his tale.
The tapping slowed and became intermittent. And then it stopped. It was going to be one of those nights, the young man could feel it. The wellspring was drying up, the words ceasing to exist in his brain. It was as if the canvas was suddenly erased and he had to start all over again, only he had forgotten how to paint. A frustrated sound somewhere between a sigh and a swear word, escaped his lips. He got up to pace and found himself hindered again by a maze of cups. Big, bright, 99 cent stores specials, all bought with the express purpose of trapping and suffocating the dreaded water bugs, who simply did not pay enough rent to share the apartment.
The frustration welled up in him as he danced around the cups in an effort to release the tension. An onlooker might have been frightened to witness this mad sort of jig performed by a crazy-haired artist in his underwear who was still swearing, only much louder now. His blond curls bouncing, the frantic young man finally reached for the phone to call the other coast, where surely someone who cared would still be awake.
“Just tell me how it ends!”
“How about like this?”
“That won’t work, I tried it already.”
And that was how it would go. This was the pattern, the cycle of creation and frustration that held the young man trapped in a small but mighty battle to rip the stories from his mind and put them to paper. So that someday, he could switch on the television, or enter a quickly darkening movie theater and see his own face staring back at him, bringing life to the words he had penned. Evoking them in such a way, that the viewer was instantly caught up in the struggle. The struggle of the character, and perhaps a hint of the struggle of the young man.
And they would see at that moment, what he feels certain might just be a stroke of brilliance. A young man who perhaps has struggled, torn between his frustration and his tenacity, portraying a young man in the midst of his own struggle, wracked by despair, living out a story written by the young man who knows he will yet struggle, faced with uncertainty but armed with determination.
For he knows, even down in the dark basement, where the glow of the computer screen is his only light, and his roommates are rodents and water bugs, that someday he will come through. That he will be back on that sunny coast, where the heat still permeates the summer months, but it is dry. And there is air conditioning. He will be the one in the chair, talking about struggle and fear and the joy of seeing your dreams come to fruition. He will succeed. He must. He is an artist. There is no other way.