I remove my new corkboard from its packaging, inhaling the fresh scent of the wood frame that encircles its spongy core. I hang it on the wall over my desk and run my fingertips over its ragged surface. I gently cover its tan backdrop with acceptance letters, rejections and editor’s notes. It produces a colorful display of black ink on white, pink, and pale yellow paper, a picturesque chronicle of my work thus far. Some notes are handwritten, some are typed, and some are carbon copies of a standard memo. They are all infinitely polite, thanking me for my work and they all have something to teach me. They are my inspiration and my motivation; when I sit down to begin a new project, my corkboard is a reminder of how far I’ve come, and of the journey that lies ahead.
When the words don’t come, I sit and stare at the lighted screen; I play with my music on my computer, moving folders around like a game of musical chairs, listening to songs that usually hide in the background while I write; I stare at books on my bookshelf; I pick up reference books and flip through their pages wondering if they will spark an idea or a direction for me to take; I look at completed stories and wonder how I finished them; I look at the stories that are published and wonder if it was a fluke; I pace the room and then wander through my apartment doing meaningless tasks; I take a walk and end up at a coffee shop; I buy a coffee and sit tapping my pen on a clean page; and when the coffee cup is empty, I return home, back to my blank screen and start typing – the words are there again.
My lovely Dictionary and Thesaurus – you are the writer’s loyal friends. You always know exactly what to say and are eager to help me discover that picture-perfect adjective, the ideal verb or that perfect noun. When I am lost on my journey, you help me find the right path. Your colorful language invigorates my poetry and adds flavour to my stories.
You wear your dog-eared pages with pride while you linger amidst story drafts and notebooks. Other reference books are jealous at the attention you receive; your covers may not be intact, but you are always ready to lend a hand to the poor suffering writer who can’t find the right word.
I appreciate the job you do; I am happy to have you in my life.
It’s raining outside; the dampness seeps into my apartment. I have been sitting for two hours. The heat from my computer soothes the tips of my frozen fingers as they dance over the keyboard. This is the inactivity of writing, when the only blood flowing is the blood in your fingers as they incessantly type and the blood flow to your brain as it incessantly creates. The rest of my body is idle, engaged in holding me upright, not exerting enough energy required to pump the blood through my body and produce warmth. My solutions: I keep a thick sweater on the back of my chair and a hot cup of tea beside me. This prevents me from having to step away in the midst of something powerful and compelling, interrupting my flow of thought, if only to save my frozen limbs from a perpetual icy state.
I like to write in coffee shops. The environment offers me inspiration and helps stimulate that one nagging idea that has been tumbling around in my head like clothes in a dryer. I am attracted by the smell of fresh roasted coffee; its rich aroma awakens my sleepy senses. I marvel at the little round tables and the artwork on the walls. I do a little scope of the room, looking for that perfect place to set up camp for the next hour or so.
I order the regular house coffee, knowing it may grow cold while I am besotted by my notebook. I am lulled into another place by the low music buzzing through the speakers, the hiss of the espresso machine and the prattle of customers. I feel a sense of kinship seeing others reading a book, sliding their fingers over their new tablet, typing on their laptop or writing in their journals. On days when ideas are scant, I sit and observe. Sometimes, I catch the glassy-eyed stare of another and I know we are both fighting the same war – trying to find that perfect word, that perfect phrase, that ideal beginning or ending – in short, that perfect story.