The Strain of Writing

The strain was beginning to tell on Marcie. She had gone through dry spells before; every author did. This was different, though. It had been nine weeks and four days since the flashing cursor on her laptop screen had edged eastwards.

Marcie had tried every time-honoured, hippie-blessed, sing-in-a-circle-kum-bye-ah cure that internet search engines could be sent to fetch. Nothing had worked.

Go for a walk? It was so cold that even if she had been inspired to write afterwards, her fingers were too numb.

Change your environment? No. This wasn’t Location, Location, Location.

Read a book? She didn’t need reminding that others had finished their novels, published them, and were sitting at leisure enjoyed the fruits of their work, thank you very much.

No, what was needed was something radical. If her novel was to be unique, then so should her method of overcoming The Block. What was required was something to short her circuits, something to open her third eye, something to take her into the third, no, the fourth dimension.

So it was that Marcie sat at her writing bureau with a copy of Hard Times by Charles Dickens in her hands, a steaming mug of black coffee in front of her, and that damned cursor pulsing, waiting. God, she had hated Hard Times at school. Mr. Mace would either tediously whine his way through the prose for them, or even worse, allocate each pupil in turn a paragraph to read. Time seemed to stretch on indeterminately on those afternoons as Sian Imbush stumbled and spluttered her way through the prose, simultaneously ruining any love Marcie might have had for Dickens along with her GCSE grade.

Hard Times would serve a purpose today, though. From ennui would come inspiration. Brilliance would from boredom spring forth. Tearing the first page from its bindings, she folded it into quarters before cramming it inside her mouth. The dry paper wouldn’t yield to her chewing at first, but the parchment eventually turned into mash in her mouth, leaving her able to swallow the cud. Marcie stared at the screen. Still nothing? Ok, quick swig of coffee and time for page two. She would train her mind to write. No inspiration? Then you’ll have to choke down someone else’s manuscript. There were two-hundred-and-ninety-three more pages to go, and if she wasn’t tapping at the keyboard by the end of those then she might as well go back to the day job. In went page three, followed by a brief wave of nausea. Don’t like it? Better get bloody writing then, hadn’t you?


Two days later, and the words were spilling out of Marcie. Her fingers danced over the keys. Witty yet succinct dialogue seemed to write itself onto the page and characters brought themselves to life and dictated plot according to their own perfectly formed whims.

Marcie readied herself for another cramp, shutting the laptop over on her bare knees and bracing against the tiles on either side of the toilet. Her face shone with perspiration. Twenty-six seconds, the previous one had lasted. It had become so bad in the last hour or so that she was tempted to slip the leather belt from the trousers around her ankles and bite into it like a maimed soldier on a surgeon’s table.  Still, Marcie, thought, a small price to pay for inspiration.

Hard times, indeed.


***Thanks for reading, folks. As always, I’d be delighted to read any comments you care to leave!***

15 thoughts on “The Strain of Writing

  1. Bahaha! It was already funny when I thought she was going to bore herself with Dickens to reach the fourth dimension, but there’s nothing like a violent illness to breach the wall to the subconscious. You always effectively misdirect me.
    I wonder if eating a book really could cause terrible diarrhea? I’ll have to digest my most boring book to find out.

    Liked by 1 person

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