Star date 14 August 2014 – I was delighted to be presented with an Honourable Mention certificate at NMIT’s annual ‘Time to Write’ short story competition for 2014. My story is entitled ‘The Writer’s Trial’ and I have set it out below for your enjoyment. As usual I welcome your comments.
‘The Writer’s Trial’
I am in writing mode; seated before my trusty keyboard and bright, white monitor. I am waiting for inspiration like a late-night roisterer waiting for a cab. I love writing but sometimes I think that writing does not like me. This usually happens when I am pressured by a deadline. I do not think that it’s writer’s block because my head is crammed full of ideas. The problem is more one of choosing what to write. As always, I want what I write to be very good and if possible, brilliant. But deciding what to write is difficult. I am afraid that if I make the wrong choice I may as well have tried to climb Everest naked without a Sherpa guide. In both instances, the fear of failure looms large.
I have had a couple of goes at looking out my study window. It provides a very nice view of the garden and I like watching the birds as they visit the flowers. It’s peaceful and it usually helps me to make key decisions, but not today. So, I activated Plan B and flicked through some of my favourite books. The fatal flaw with Plan B is that I end up reading more than I should. Plan C is fraught with danger but I have given it a go as well. Another dead-end because there is nothing worthwhile on the telly and what little good there is, I have already seen, several times. Maybe a coffee break will help?
As the kettle works itself up to boiling point, I gaze out the kitchen window. The couple next-door have just had a row. It was a real ding-dong. Both the f-word and the c-word got a workout with plenty of sh—ts, bastards, bitches and get stuffs thrown in for good measure. Why are other people’s fights so amusing? Now she is storming about in a bare midriff top, micro – shorts and ugg boots. I guess it could be called fetching in a way. He, on the other hand, has a bigger hump than Quasimodo so he decided to take his vintage Mustang out for a bit of a burn. Just as I am making my cuppa, he takes off with a prolonged screeching of tyres. You can hear him slamming through the gears as he races away down the backstreets to who knows where? I’ll just grab a couple of bickies and sit down at the kitchen table. After a little while I turn on the radio. Why did I do that? I really hate those programs where people call in to express their general dissatisfaction with everything, every day. Worst of all, I have a sneaking suspicion that many of them are professionals, employed by the major political parties; a cynic? Moi?
I decide to walk back upstairs to the salt mine. As far as salt mines go it is okay. There is carpet on the floor and a galaxy of distractions on the book shelves. There are not just books. I have several scale model cars including the famous Aston Martin DB5 from ‘Goldfinger’. In addition, I have a number of ceramic cats; numerous dragons; some carved statues; a water feature; a model sailing ship, that doubles as a desk-lamp; my father’s silver sporting cups; my teddy bear and my crystal collection. If that were not enough, I also have my degrees and other framed documents festooning the walls along with two large prints. One of the prints is of a cricket match at Lords in 1886 while the other is a photograph of H.M.S. Rose. She is a beautiful sailing ship that has acted in several movies including ‘Master and Commander on the Other Side of the World’. It is fair to say that I have lots of toys.
I am starting to get just a teensy bit angry with myself. No one should be stuck for an idea with so much stimuli around him, and yet? Suddenly, I catch sight of my notebook. This is where I jot down ideas and observations that might turn into stories. It has been some time since I last went there. Hmmm, some of these ideas could do the trick! There is one about a lawn bowling club that is dominated, as such clubs tend to be, by three old men. At the time I made the note I thought that I could use the events of the Russian Revolution as a structure for a story about how the old troika is overthrown by a peoples’ revolt by other members. Oh, well, it sounded promising at the time. Next, a hard-hitting piece on the evils of telemarketing in which a law abiding citizen becomes a killer bent on eradicating the people who make all those annoying phone calls. But wait, there is more. How about ‘The White Shoe Club’, an expose of big developers and crooked counsellors? I could even throw in some stuff about sex for favours granted. Oh, here’s one that makes me laugh – the trials and tribulations of a thesis writer. Then there is a single word, mortiferous. It means deadly and could be useful. Here’s another, a real ghost writer. This happens when a living author is possessed by the spirit of a famous deceased writer, and becomes even more famous by churning out masterpieces in the style of the dead maestro. Lastly, there is a single line that reads, ‘Melbourne hath charms to soothe the savage beast’. What was I thinking?
Oh, my, god. I have just looked at my clock. Two hours have passed and my coffee has gone cold. The screen in front of me is empty, the proverbial polar bear in a snowstorm. All this thought and conjecture and I’ve still got nothing to show for it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Shuffle, shuffle. You’ll have to imagine this bit. I am looking for something among my papers. Shuffle, shuffle.
Eureka. Thank goodness for good old scraps of paper. ‘Space travel at high speed is rather like conventional air travel only much faster…’