NaNo Horror!

22/10/2016 08:47

This is my response to the latest prompt at Black Ship Books and Flash Fiction Friday. The prompt is to write a horror story featuring the following: writer, 50.000, month, goal and winner. This isn't a horror story as such, but it does feature the horror that every writer - perhaps every creative person - faces. The horrid idea that you just can't 'do it'.

Please let me know what you think!


The Writer sat staring at the blank screen. There really is no more frightening sight to any creative mind than an empty page, whether physical or digital. Its sheer emptiness yawns like an abyss, drawing out any remnant of an idea and tossing it away with a sneer.


Your puny thoughts are unworthy of soiling my purity,” it seems to say. And there are some days when the Writer will believe that the page is telling the truth.


There is only one possible antidote to this tyranny, and that is to just begin writing. No goal is ever achieved by inaction. A journey begins with a single step. A novel begins with a single word.


The Writer typed her first word, “When” and leaned back in her chair, watching the virtual page writhe in the discomfort of having these black letters etched into its pristine surface. She smiled, believing that she had scored a small victory but the page was merely wounded, and that wound was barely a scratch in reality.


Call that writing?” it mocked. “One word? And not even an original one! Where are you going with this, then? 'When I was a child'? 'When I feel the spring breeze in my hair'? 'When Harry met Sally'?


You wouldn't know an original thought if it bit you on your arse!”


Some part of the Writer's soul died, terrified into oblivion by the truth it heard in the ridicule of the computer screen. Her fingers hovered over the keyboard, ready to hit the Delete button and wipe the offending word from the page and from her memory.


How had she ever thought she could write anything? Let alone anything original? And it was not even her fault! After all, there were no truly original ideas any more. Everything had been done. Whatever she produced would simply be a hollow copy of something already produced, something altogether finer and more interesting.


The page was right. Who would want to read a novel that began with the word 'when'?


She glanced at the screen. The virtual page had almost stopped its writhing. Instead it waited, anticipating her capitulation, smugness oozing from every square millimetre of its surface.


That's right! Make me clean again, make me whole. Heal me! You don't really want to splatter my delightful surface with your dirty words, do you?”


Her hand moved towards the Delete button. It was the only thing to do. Remove the word and start again. Find something bolder, more courageous to begin her story with. That was it; she was not giving in; she was merely changing tack! Her finger came down towards the keyboard but instead of hitting Delete it landed on another letter. The letter 'P'.


The page screamed in rage as though the five little letters and single space were slicing its surface to ribbons.


My flesh! My beautiful clean, white flesh! You are killing me! Take away these pointless letters. What does it even mean? 'When p'? This is going nowhere. You will never be a winner with this tripe. Two words – sorry, one and a half words – in over an hour? At this rate, you'll take a week to fill a single page.”


Again, the page writhed in front of her eyes, its discomfort clear. Perhaps she should put it – and herself – out of their collective misery? After all, she only had a month to meet this challenge and the page was right. Her progress thus far was slow to say the least!


She looked at the words again. 'When p'. P-what? What word was beginning to form itself there? 'Penguins' – no. 'Playing' – doubtful. 'Pretending' – hmmm. 'When pretending'; who was pretending? And what were they pretending? It might be Algernon and his 'Bunburying', someone inventing a sick friend in order to get out of social engagements. Or it might be something altogether more sinister.


Without her realising it, her fingers had typed on. Now, her opening sentence – for it was now a definite sentence and it was the only one on the page and she was damned if she was going to delete an entire opening sentence – sat on the screen in stubborn defiance of the page's howls of anguish.


'When pretending to work in her dusty nine-to-five as a data entry clerk, Denise was actually doing something completely different.'


There! Not only a sentence but one that took up more than one line. That was a sentence indeed. Each letter was pinned to the page as though it was indelible, eternal, immovable. Nothing and no-one could make her remove it. Twenty whole words. Only 49, 980 to go – she could produce 50,000 with no problem.


But the page was not defeated yet. “Who's this Denise, then? And what's she doing instead of working? You've already done an outline. I remember every shoddy word of it. There was no mention of a Denise in that. Not that I disagree with you ditching that pile of cliched poop, of course. I told you when you were writing it out that it wouldn't get you anywhere.”


The Writer glared at the screen. She had poured her heart and soul into that outline and had even produced some character sheets. There was no mention of a Denise. Her main character was a sweet girl called Jenny who suffered a series of trials and tribulations on the path to true love, finally settling down with her soul-mate Andrew. So it was not the most original plot, she admitted that, but she had told herself that she was only writing this thing for her own amusement. There was no intention of it being seen by anyone else, let alone being published!


Her attention came back to Denise. Maybe there was a way of bringing her into the original idea...


The page laughed. “Mysterious Denise and her clandestine activities do not belong with boring little Jenny and her romantic disasters. Face it. You'll either have to ditch Denise and delete that sentence, or you'll have to ditch Jenny and make the whole thing up as you go along. And you really don't strike me as the 'writing by the seat of the pants' type.”


No, the Writer admitted, she really could not face the idea of starting a whole novel from scratch with no idea of what was going to happen from one chapter to the next. But the page had made a fatal error. Instead of telling her that she was not a writer at all, it had shown her two alternatives, two ways forward out of this dilemma. In fact, it had shown her three.


Now, just you wait a minute! I never said that. Where did I say there were three alternatives?”


You said, 'Mysterious Denise and her clandestine activities do not belong with boring little Jenny and her romantic disasters.' But actually, I think they do.”


Oh, you think you're very clever, don't you? Using my words against me! But just how are you going to make that work, I wonder. Oh, yes, I wonder!”


I'm not sure, yet, but I'll work it out as I go. Jenny and Andrew will be together despite all the odds and Denise's best efforts to keep them apart. I and I will write this novel despite all your best efforts to stop me!”


And the Writer then proceeded to cover four pages with words before sinking into an exhausted – but well-deserved – sleep.


NaNo Horror!

This is epic horror indeed!

Date: 01/11/2016 | By: Joyce Juzwik

Rose, You have really put into words the horror I feel every time I sit down at the computer. In years past, it was in front of the typewriter! That blank page. That cruel and uncaring thing. It mocks. It torments. It dares. But, as writers, we dig down deep and pull the words out and put them on that page to silence it. Of course, the taunting begins again at editing

This is great and it really hits home.


Date: 23/10/2016 | By: Dave B

I like this a lot Rose. Made me smile, made me wish there were more. Can't be bad

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