Published 7:51 am Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sitting before the blank page, it reminded him of his mind at the moment. Nothing. No inspiration, no idea, no grand thoughts about which to write. Nothing to engage a reader.

Surely amongst all the sweeping human endeavors in history there was some concept worthy of contemplation and preservation for the future of mankind. But nothing.

He looked at his coffee cup sitting to his right and watched the smoke curl up to the ceiling. The cat was lying on the kitchen floor, eyes half closed, swinging her tail. His chair squeaked as he shifted. The sun was coming in the window exposing disinterested dust as it wafted in the air, defying gravity. The clock was ticking to his right. Looking at the wall map to his left, he wondered how far it was from Virginia to Colorado.

Glancing at the ceiling, he noticed a water mark from a past leak in the bathroom up above. Everett Darden had fixed that leak. Everett used to work at the cotton gin. He wondered what the price of cotton would be this year.

Still no story. His hands seemed lifeless. His mind impotent. His imagination paralyzed.

The deadline approached. Like a looming predator, his time for submission inched closer, as if plodding to the rhythm of the clock. Tick, tick, tick. Soon it would be too late.

In the past, the pressure had been his friend, seeming to fuel his capacity for possibilities and awaken his adrenaline. It was like a glorious race to the finish line that required all of his faculties, after which he exulted in triumph and exhaustion.

But not this time. There was no race, no adrenaline and no finish line. Only the constant pressure as the clock continued its deliberate march forward.

The cat was now asleep, her tail limp.

The chair seemed a little harder, so he shifted his position. It squeaked again but the cat did not wake. He glanced at the map and wondered how far it was from North Carolina to California. His cousin was from California. His name was Cecil. He scratched his neck and stared at the screen. The blank screen. Tick, tick, tick.

Desperation was starting to creep in, strangling any possibility of a subject matter.

And then it came. Like a kernel warmed by the earth pushing through crusted soil, his idea fought to the surface and bloomed. At last, he had an idea! A singular thought! An unrivaled inspiration!

His fingers came alive as they traversed the keyboard, arranging letters and sorting words, their speed superseded only by his thoughts.

For he had his grand, majestic idea around which he would write! He had his message from the heavens! Furiously, his fingers began typing, “Sitting before the blank page …”