The Darkness of Writers

Contributor: Rohini Gupta

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I know it’s there in the world of dreams – the hell of failed writers. It’s a dark, furtive, endless cave which reeks of stagnant despair and overripe frustration.

It’s heavily populated. Until you look at that crowd standing there in the shadows, you don’t realize how many people wanted to write. Young and old, every race and sex and color and style, the highly educated and the dropouts, the wealthy and the starving. They are all there, shoulder to shoulder bound by the same darkness.

They mill around angrily, snapping at each other, furious at being here, but yes, ashamed too. They know it is their own doing.

The only bright thing about the place is the woman who sits at the lighted desk. She is bright and shining, sparkling and gracious in white. She has a large register in front of her and she checks each name in it.

One by one the writers go before her, looking away, not daring to meet her eyes, bracing themselves to take the weight of her smile.

“So,” she says not even finishing the question.

And they mumble and stammer before her.

“Ah,” she says, “That excuse has been used 455678893 times – I did not have enough time. And this one – I will write when life gets better – 378946357 times."

She gives them a neat note, a slip of clean paper with a number on it. “Go and contemplate your sin,” she says.

They shuffle away, weary beyond belief and they mingle in small groups speaking in hushed tones.

“I really believed I would ……”

“I thought one day …..”

“I waited till I retired but ….”

And they look at each other with the sudden shock of revelation.

They dive for pens and keyboards and write furiously, their fingers moving faster than the speed of light.

Then they wake, having forgotten the dream, but with a great sense of urgency. They skip breakfast, let the phone ring itself into exhaustion, and head for the work table. Fingers burn with the friction.

The words flow.

At last they sit back, warm, fulfilled, satisfied.

I believe it really exists, the writer's hell, in dreams somewhere, in those unmapped spaces beyond this world. Too many excuses take you there.

I’ve been there. I know. I stood before that shining desk. I made my excuses, my voice sounding hollow as a gong. I felt that chill hopelessness but when I woke it was with renewed energy and a clear sense of what to do.

I must make sure I never enter that grey blankness again. Keep the keyboard so busy that dust has no time to settle.

May smoke ascend from the thunder of the keys forever.


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I am a writer of poetry and non fiction and am working on longer stories, but flash fiction is its own delight. On a good day a flash fiction story almost writes itself and that is why I keep coming back to it.
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One Response to this post

  1. Narain Hinduja on July 30, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    It is really dark out there,without the Light!

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