Goodness me, doesn’t time fly. I thought it had been about a week since I last posted yet when I logged in, I see it is actually closer to a month! In my defence it is November which, for mad writers like myself that only means one thing – National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo. It is the time of year when the more astute observers among you will notice collections of the unwashed huddled over a long dead coffee and a laptop in various cafes, libraries and generally anywhere else we can get free wifi, muttering unintelligable words and acting out invisible scenes as we furiously try and write 50,000 words in 30 days with ever more desperation as December approaches.
Anyway, enough with excuses, you haven’t come here for that, I know, so today I thought I would share with you a piece I wrote in response to a prompt we were given during the writing group I attend. The prompt was easy enough, it was ‘write in present tense, first person’. Simples. Except when faced with the blank page we all froze. Below is what I eventually came up with, out of desperation, however, I think, eventually, it actually works – in fact it made everyone giggle when I read it out so I hope it does the same for you.
A Lack of Imagination
I am sitting here staring at the blank page on my screen, watching the taunting, teasing cursor winking in his knowing, sly little way.
“You can’t do this,” he is saying, “not in a million years.”
I look around the room at the assembled bent heads, all busily scratching meaning onto paper or tapping life into their laptops. Has the day finally arrived, I wonder, is it today? I move my fingers meaningfully across the keys, after all I am the only one who can see I am typing gibberish, perhaps I can put off my discovery for a few more minutes.
How come it comes so easy to them, I wonder, it really doesn’t seem fair. I am the one who started the group, so how come I’m the only one who doesn’t seem to possess an imagination. My eyes wander away from my screen again and I catch Robert staring at me from across the room, with a look I can’t quite fathom. Does he know?
Feeling like a naughty school girl I press the delete button and watch the cursor devour my lie. My hands hover hopelessly over the keyboard whilst my little black judge just stands to attention and laughs. I clasp my hands together, as if I can wring the words out of them then find myself thinking of all the shopping I have to do, the presents I still have to wrap and the cards that I’ll probably never get round to writing.
My heart sinks as I realise my imagination doesn’t even stretch to a humorous Christmas greeting, what was I thinking? I am filled with despair as I realise just how foolish I’ve been. I can’t write a novel, not now, not ever – for goodness sake, I can’t even think of a simple story about a helicopter, a spider and snow, and I could do that when I was nine. I am close to tears now, wouldn’t that complete my humiliation.
Karen, the woman who set the task, coughs a teacher’s cough and says kindly, “Five minutes.”
There are furtive glances around the table, secret smiles of contentment as well as gasps of shock, they are all anticipating reading their stories out. Some worried they won’t finish in time, some glad for the five minutes to check what they’ve done. For me five minutes feels like a count-down to embarrassment. I want to run, I can’t let them know my mind is empty, don’t want them to realise, I’m not one of them, not a wordsmith, a writer, not smart and not capable.
“Okay, finish your sentence,” Karen smiles.
And suddenly a flash of inspiration hits. As Robert begins to read his hilarious composition, I realise I have a way out. I wait patiently until he finishes, barely hearing his words, before I say, with a little giggle, “I just can’t wait anymore, sorry. Where did you say the loo was, Anita.”
They all laugh with me as Anita reminds me it is just down the corridor and round the corner, I laughingly apologise for disturbing them as push myself away from the table and head gratefully out of the door, congratulating myself on my ability to hide my secret for one more week.