In Sir Philip Sidney’s words: “Fool, said my muse to me. Look in thy heart and write!”. But it seems to be incredibly hard to compose a phrase after witnessing literary greatness.
The days had been drifting by and the thought of having to hold a pen over paper was as painful as a needle through sensitive skin. Books piled on his bedside. Plants remained unwatered. Pen. Paper. Music. You need to write, you have a deadline. He had disconnected the house phone, and his cell had been off for almost a week. Those previous seven days had been spent on bed, reading, sleeping, staring at the ceiling. He had eaten cereal, leftovers and had been drinking litres and litres of coffee. But his pen was still untouched. His laptop had been turnt on, but he only had watched porn and had googled the randomest things: “how long does it take a dead body to stink?”, “ways to kill someone making no sound”, “how many painkillers are needed to kill a person?” and, his favorite, “can a person survive by only drinking coffee and eating cereal?”. The answer was no, obviously, but he had smirked at the responses online. One guy from Minnesota affirmed he had survived with cereal and coffee for almost a month. He assured he felt fine, but ended up having a bit of a nervous twitch as a consequence. A woman from Japan said she had survived half a month drinking tea and eating ramen. This was more plausible.
His hand was shaking when he finally decided to turn on his cellphone. After a little while, it started to beep, signaling the undetermined number of texts and missed calls. His hand shook heavily as he went through the texts. “WHERE ARE YOU?”, “I NEED THE DRAFT TOMORROW” and “YOUR REPUTATION WILL BE RUINED” hurt his eyes and made his head pound. The blank page was terrifying.
As if phone had sent a signal to his agent, his name appeared on the screen and his cell began to ring frantically. His brain panicked and went through different excuses to tell him. “I’ve been ill”, “My mother died”, “I found out I have an evil twin who wants to kill me and I’ve been hiding from him in Costa Rica”, were as ridiculous as the truth: “I’ve had no inspiration to write the second book of what is supposed to be my successful saga”. He picked up the phone instead.
“Yes?”, he answered, trying to sound normal. How could one sound normal at a time like that?
“YES? YOU JUST PICK UP AND SAY YES?”, his publishing agent was about to explode. “Like, I’ve been trying to reach you for a whole week! You were supposed to turn in your draft THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY!! Are you aware of how many people are counting with you for this book??”
His hands were shaking again. “I know”, was all he said. “I’ve been… ill”
“You’ve been ill? oh, why didn’t you say that before, it changes everything… EXCEPT IT DOESN’T! You have deadlines and if you want to be a serious writer you need to meet those deadlines. The publishing house wanted the draft and you haven’t submitted a single line yet. What have you been doing? They paid you a month ago”
“I know, I just… I haven’t been inspired”. The agent was silent now, probably too offended to say anything. He thought of something. “Listen, give me a day. Give me a day and I will get out the house and have written a chapter before midday tomorrow. I know a chapter is not an entire draft, but it’s something, right? I have… I have some ideas. I know I have them. I just need to pick up the pen and start writing”.
“You better write on that laptop, stop being a retro-hipster-writer. I need that draft by tomorrow or they will chop both our heads off, and I seriously need this job. And so do you, as I recall”, said the agent. “Send me whatever you can as soon as you can, I have to keep them happy somehow”.
“Thank you. Thank you, I will. I will write as fast as I can”. The agent had hung up already. But his chest now felt less heavy and the prospect of having 24 hours to write a decent piece felt incredibly relieving.
The first thing he had to do was take a shower. Then, he’d get dressed and would go out to have a proper meal. After eating, he could go to that little café he liked so much in the main road and sit there all afternoon to write. The blank page had to be conquered. To the horses!