Being able to write a 1,148 word short story about a passive-aggressive cat-fight with an imaginary best friend over the last copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl at the bookstore.
Now breathe … and let me start from the beginning:
It’s hard to imagine how a simple Daily Post prompt can turn into a huge problem. (Okay, maybe not a huge problem, but it was still a problem.) Last week’s prompt was so simple, even a five-year old could do it. So, why was it so difficult?
It wasn’t. It was fun, and I was having so much fun that I kept on going. Who knew that talking about your imaginary friend could get your creative juices flowing? It felt like being hit suddenly with a bolt of lightning, I couldn’t stop writing. I started right from the beginning: explaining how my imaginary friend came to be, what she liked doing (hitching a ride in a kangaroo’s pouch), the kind of parents she had, and her favourite food (lasagna). It felt, good. I, was on a roll.
Then came the reality check, when you realize that you hadn’t thought everything through. There was still one problem: how would I meet this long-lost imaginary friend?
The bolt struck again.
Like a mad scientist, I set to work sewing in scenes and filling my tale with snippets of dialogue. I was firmly in the grip of mad hysteria; fleeting and incoherent thoughts jostled for space inside my head, while each new word sent a welcome shiver racing down my spine. With all the commotion that was going on, I didn’t notice that something else was happening in the background …
“More power, Igor!” yelled the Mad Writer.
A face crisscrossed with large, unsightly stitches, which seemed to have been made by a reckless tailor, appeared from behind a row of machines stacked in a far corner of the room.
“But thur,” said Igor, looking at the power gauge in front of him. “We’re already at theventy-perthent full power. More would be – “
The Mad Writer cut him off. “What did I say about questioning my orders, Igor?”
Igor held his tongue and turned his gaze towards the small helpless figure pinned to a granite slab in the middle of the room. It was squirming uselessly against the leather straps, in an effort to free itself. It’s no use, he wanted to say, those straps could have easily held down a troll. In Igor’s opinion, there was nothing worse than a mad writer. Sure, he’d worked for a couple of mad scientists with questionable morals in the past, but they were nothing compared to his current employer. Mad scientists were simply misunderstood –usually by an angry mob wielding torches and pitchforks – when all they wanted, was to create something for the greater benefit of humanity. Mad writers were a much crazier kettle of fish all together; they created things, sometimes terrible things, and they enjoyed it. That was what bothered him most: they took pleasure in what they created.
“Right away, thur.”
He disappeared once more behind the machines and made his way to the far wall, careful to avoid stepping on any of the live wires that lay on the floor. This part of the room was covered in darkness, so he had to feel his way along the wall until his fingers rested on the cold metal of the lever. He took a deep breath as he slowly eased it down.
Igor took a step back and made his way back to safety behind the row of machines. He wouldn’t risk getting any closer, after all, his previous experience had taught him that this was usually not an appropriate time to be curious. It was a survival tactic, one that he’d gotten very good at over the years.
He could hear the Mad Writer cry out triumphantly. “Igor, it’s working!”
The lights flickered, as shadows danced along the walls. Four large glass orbs supported on ten foot tall posts, which had been positioned around the slab, glowed white-hot with the energy of about three thousand lightning bolts. The machines hissed loudly beside him while the dials flashed red in warning. A shrill inhuman cry came from the figure, before the whole room abruptly plunged into darkness.
This was odd. Past experience had also taught him that this was typically the part where lightning flashed long enough to illuminate whatever horror that lay on the slab, as it broke free from the straps. But there was no lightning, thanks to the fact that they were in a room without windows, which made Igor more nervous. It was much better to die once knowing what would happen to you, than to die hundreds of times trying to imagine what would happen to you.
“Marthter?” he called out again, this time the panic in his voice was unmistakable.
He had to find the door, something wasn’t right. It was hard to make anything out in the impenetrable gloom, so he crouched down on all fours and started shuffling forward.
He paused. “Marthter? Ith that you?”
He froze. Whatever it was, it had quietly padded its way behind him. Igor gave a whimper as turned around to face the creature …
You see, while I was busy enjoying myself, I hadn’t realized that my main character had gone through a drastic change over the course of the tale. My (somewhat) sweet and innocent nine-year old had turned into a monster, and I was left scratching my head to find answers to some really important questions. At what point did my main character change? When did the sweet kangaroo-pouch-riding and lasagna-loving nine year-old, turn into – and I really hate to say this – a bitch? This wasn’t the story I’d envisioned from the beginning, that is, if there ever was a grand vision at all.
Do you know what the worst part about this sudden turn of events was? It felt good being in this genuinely unlikable character’s head. It was almost how, I imagine, Goldilocks felt when she broke into the Three Bears’ home and found the last bed to be just right. But this was better than just right, this was great! I could have gone on forever.
I didn’t … No, I couldn’t go on.
Maybe it was the euphoria, the mad rush to finish my story, which finally led me to this point. I had quite literally, lost the plot. Not only did my ‘bitch’ have no teeth, since she had no idea how to get the book away from her imaginary friend; but the book itself had slowly been edging its way past the cashier’s till to freedom, when no one was looking. I had forgotten about Gone Girl – my raison d’etre for making up this story – and, I had no clue how to continue from where I left off. I was stuck with one more half-finished writing project with no idea where to go next. (I happen to have a lot of these on my computer.) So, I did what everyone else has probably done on countless occasions – I closed the document and sent it to my ever-growing pile of unfinished projects. (It’s not something I’m proud of.)
So, what’s the point of this pointless post?
I need a word-clipper, something to keep me from rambling. I wonder if there’s an app for that. Also, can I have it specially made for me? And, I’m welcome to any suggestions on how to end my story. It’s probably cheating, but who cares, right?
Image credit: Creativity by jeanbaptisteparis, via Flickr.