The Writer’s Curse

22 Oct


(cracks knuckles and waggles fingers over keyboard, doing digit-aerobics before typing)

I’m undertaking a personal challenge: flash fiction based on the results of a random plot generator.

My plot:

“The story starts when your protagonist swears to remain single. Another character is a school teacher who wants to break the rules.”

Well, now. Who will they be? Let’s see. A hermit and a rebel. A nun and a party girl. Heartbroken and heartbreaker.

What hijinx ensue? What conflicts, emotions, tensions? What consequences?


I got nothin’.

And that’s how it’s been for weeks. Months, even.

I carry a notebook and pen almost everywhere I go, prepared to record story ideas, but none have arrived. It’s as if my work — editing and critiquing — has cut a wide swath in my mind, not allowing the flames of creative thought to cross the fireline. In fact, the flames aren’t much of a threat, and the fireline has been there so long that weeds have grown between the edges.

open meadow at Wilson's Creek Battlefield (c2013, KB)

open meadow at Wilson’s Creek Battlefield (c2013, KB) I only had a smallish mid-range lens, so the grand view is reduced to something bland. Kinda like my writing lately.

There’s a short story contest deadline approaching soon. I have maybe two weeks to present a polished story. Six hundred words are written. Six hundred good words. But now I stare at the cursor blinking at the end of the last line, and can’t think what comes next.

The writer’s curse.


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5 responses to “The Writer’s Curse

  1. Johne Cook

    October 22, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    I’ve had writer’s block twice; the first time, my subconscious was telling me I need to go back to a certain spot and start again, and that worked. The second time, I was in defiance to God over a small moral issue. My writer’s block didn’t dissipate until I confessed my sin and repented and got right with God. After that, I was more prolific than I’ve been in awhile, selling three stories, one of them to a print anthology.

    The other thing to consider is that sometimes, people work in cyclic patterns. Damon Knight would write novels for two years, edit magazines for two years, and teach for two years, and then rinse and repeat.

  2. Keanan

    October 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Contending with God — He and I have conversed (well, I’ve ranted and shouted) about many a problem, but maybe we need to have a quieter discussion. More listening, less talking.

    Maybe I’m writing the wrong story. Maybe my brain’s more interested in telling something else. Must explore.

    I’m attempting a sorta cyclical thing: after October, abandoning the editing in order to write for the remainder of the year. Though I hope for success, I do realize it’s probably the worst time of year to try to focus on something other than holidays and family stuff.

    • Johne Cook

      October 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      I found that friends were instrumental in helping me find my solution. (Their actual suggestions were off-the-mark, but simple proximity did the trick. Somebody said something that got me thinking, and that got me repenting, and that did the trick.)

  3. Keanan

    October 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Since posting my reply above, I went on a hunt for another story, already written, and found one that’s 200 words below the contest limit. Good story. I’ve changed a few words, edited a few more. Looks shiny. Much more fun and inspirational than the story I was trying to write this morning. Not deeply literary, but I like it.

    So, contest handled. Still need a breakthrough with new writing, though.

    • Johne Cook

      October 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      Cool. We’ll take our victories where we find them!


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