Saturday, March 19, 2016

Blank Space

He sat there, just staring into the blank screen. He had been sitting for hours looking at it, and it was blank, just like his thoughts.
He knew he had to write something, it was the only thing he could do. But what? Nothing was coming out of his imagination. He knew he had to put something down, but what? There was nothing coming out of his head.
All of his life he had been able to sit, and put pen to paper, without a doubt. All of his life his head was full of ideas, waiting to burst out. For him, to write was second nature, was part of who he was. He had never had a doubt. But today for the first time, he could not do it, he could not execute the one thing he was born to do, write.
But what he was trying to write was just not coming out and he could not figure it out. For he was a person who could take a look at something, and bring it to life into a story.
But this time not even that, not even a simple story.
All of his life he had been able to just sit down and vomit onto paper what was on his head. And he had no technic. There were not complex roadmaps, post its all over a wall, spider-grams, mountains of notes, research of characters or places; no notes, no history, just one single thought turned into a story. In a way he was very relaxed in his approach, he always believed this was the way he should write. But something had changed and now he was stuck, there, in front of the screen, lost in his own space, a blank and empty space.
He continued to stare at the blank screen, the curser blinking continually as if saying “I’m ready to go”, it just kept blinking and winking at him. His hands did not move, they sat at each side of the computer keyboard; sitting still, with the occasional tap of his fingers, like playing a piano. His eyes would wink occasionally to moist, sometimes in perfect sync with the curser. Several times he had to scratch his left ear, he wasn’t sure if it was a genuine itch or a nervous tick, either way this had been the most repetitive action he had done since he had sat in front of the computer several hours ago.
He didn’t dare take his eyes of the screen, just in case an idea would come, he wanted to be ready to put it down. He was thirsty and could do with a glass of fresh water. However, getting up to such activity would distract him and take him away from the screen.
It had been several months since he had turn on the machine, he found a hundred and one reason not to turn it on, so now he had finally done it, he was not prepared to let it go just for a glass of water! He moist his lips and moved away from that thought, he need to focus back onto the blank screen.
The curser continues to blink and he continued to looked at it.
Another repetitive occasional action was to gently rub his index finger on the touch pad of his computer to keep the screen from falling a sleep. It was quite annoying and found it a real distraction. And every time he did this his mind would wonder somewhere else for a few seconds, it would take his thoughts away from the blank space in front of him.
In one of such moments, the distraction tempted him to go to the toilet, he hadn't been since he sat down to write. Though he didn’t suffer from a weak bladder, he was known to visit the toilet several times whilst writing. Mind you this was caused by the tremendous amount of drinks he would consume during a writing session, every from coffee to soft drinks to the occasional glass of wine, for inspiration purposes of course. Ah, yes, he could do with one of those now, may be it would help… But the thought of getting up and losing his concentration prevented him even from going to get a glass of water! It had been too long since he sat down to write and he was not going to give it up for a frivolous indulgence such as water or alcohol. Oh no, he would not let this happen so he just sat there staring at the blank space in his computer. He winked twice, tapped his fingers once and sat there waiting to put something down.  
Suddenly the bell rang, it was the door bell and someone was outside. “What should I do”, he asked himself, “should I answer or ignore it?” The bell rang again, this time followed by a knock on the door. “Unbelievable!” He thought “do people don’t know I’m trying to write?” A third attempt came, door bell, knock on the door and this time complemented by a “is there anyone at home?” “Is there anyone at home? Really? If there was they would have answer the first time! Why would someone go out of their way to knock three times thinking there is someone at home!” He paused, perplexed, and slightly aware of what he had just said to himself. And a fourth attempt came from a very persistent person outside his door.
Being highly critical of himself, he realised that his previous thought made no sense, here is what went thought his head; if someone outside was keen to talk to someone inside and for him to think that the person outside thought there was no one inside, this was incorrect as he was inside, and someone outside was trying to find if there was someone inside! This muddled up thought suddenly overwhelmed him and he rushed to the door and opened it only to find an empty space, the very insistent person outside had given up thinking there was someone inside and left.
And now he was standing there, staring at an empty space, not knowing what could have been so important that made a person knock four times loudly thinking there was someone inside!
Could It have been important? Or was it just someone trying to sell him something, or talk to him about something? I guess he would never know. Unless of course it was a matter of life and death in which case they would come back or try to contact him through other means.
He shut the door, walked back to his computer and sat in front of the blank screen. For ten seconds he watched the curser blink ten times, and on the eleven his hands lifted from the side and rested on the keyboard, and he began to write down his thoughts, thoughts of what had just happened.
After five hours, three cups of coffee, two diet cokes, several glasses of water, a half a bottle of wine and several visits to the toilet, he placed the final full stop in his story called “blank space” he looked at it, smile and realised that looking at a blank space is no way to get inspired to write, the stories waiting to be told are out there, somewhere, you just have to look for them.

He never found out who knocked on his door four times that day, but a small action lead to an extraordinary event told in a story that filled a blank space.

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