This is a short story that I had to write for my English class a few semesters ago. This short story is 100% true. I love to write and I wanted to show my professor that because she knew that I have been planning on getting published soon…hopefully. So I went nuts trying to figure out what to write. In the end, I decided to write about my experiences of trying to figure out what to write. In other words, I wrote about everything I did before I started the actual assignment. So, here it is and I hope you enjoy.
Why Blank Pages Stay Blank
There is a scent of freshly brewed coffee in the air. I can hear the scolding hot liquid pouring out of the machine and into the cup. I can see the steam from the cup rising high up into the air only to vanish within seconds. My head still, I follow the steam with my eyes as it keeps going up and up and then gone. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the light dimming. It’s my computer screen going on the screen saver. I tap the mouse and the computer comes back to life with a blank Word document staring back at me. I stare back for a moment, but the coffee maker begins to spit as it tries to squeeze the last of the coffee grounds out. Finally it stops and the room is silent.
I stand up from my chair, causing it to make a high-pitched squeak. I pick up my green, oval-shaped coffee mug—my favorite mug. I hold it with both hands wrapped around its body smiling at the warmth it surges through my fingers. Dipping my nose towards the mug, I take a deep breath and let it all out in a sigh. I love the smell of coffee. I slightly blow on the surface of the coffee to cool it a little before I take a sip.
Staggering back over to my noisy chair, I place the coffee on the edge of my desk and take a seat. I run my fingers over the black, thin keys of my laptop. I look at the screen and stare at the blank page staring back at me. It says nothing to me so I say nothing to it. I look back to my coffee, which is still steaming. It amuses me, watching the steam. The screen goes dark. I tap the mouse a second time and I swear—blank or not—it was glaring at me. I frown, knowing that it wants to be fed with words. It needs to be fed.
I stare at the keys as though they will start to type on their own. “Well, what are you waiting for?” I say to the keys irritably. I don’t get a response, which is typical. I tap my fingers on the keys without actually pressing down hard on them. I bob my head up and down. I love the sound the keys make when they are hard at work. If only I could make them work for real. Then I could listen to that beautiful sound. It’s almost like music to me. That makes me wonder…what’s on the radio?
Getting out of my seat once more, I walk over to the radio sitting upon the counter next to the coffee maker. I push the button to turn it on and I hear one of my favorite songs. I smile and bob my head more than I did when I was playing with the keyboard. I notice the screen goes dark. I rush back to my computer and tap the mouse once more. My laptop wakes up right away and continues to wait patiently for me to get to work. I sit down and position my fingers on the keys. I prepare myself physically and mentally before I begin to write. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I smell coffee. I forgot about that. I take a big gulp of my preferred drink and turn my attention back to the blank page in front of me. Before I can type just one letter, I notice a small icon blinking at the bottom of the screen.
I have new e-mail. I love receiving e-mails. It makes me feel important. I click the e-mail icon and look at what I have in my inbox. Spam…spam…spam…oh, look—a coupon to my favorite store. I certainly want to use this coupon, but when does it expire? I look up the deadline and then I remember. I have a deadline. I exit out of my e-mail and get back to the blank page that has been pouting for about an hour now. Taking one more sip of my coffee for courage, I begin to type on my tolerant laptop.
I smile at the screen proud that I have written my name. This makes me feel a little productive. I began to start something. But then I begin to get a little hungry. I get back up and enter the kitchen. I rummage through the refrigerator and all the cabinets, yet I can’t seem to settle on anything that I want. I notice the computer screen goes dark once more. I walk calmly back over to my laptop, tap the mouse, and glare at the screen. I know that it goes dark only to get my attention. It wants to annoy me. It’s taunting me.
I stare at my name and the blinking cursor. I pout, knowing that I should have had a lot more work done by now. I sit down and position my fingers once more. I look over to my coffee and take a deep breath. The room is still scented with coffee. I look over to the radio. The music is still playing. I look back to the screen. The Word document is still up. The cursor is still blinking. The page is still blank.
I enter twice and tell myself that there will be no more distractions. I have my coffee. I have music playing. My e-mail has already been checked. I click the underline button for the title and then I pause. What is my title? What am I even writing about? My shoulders go limp as I realize that I was farther behind than I thought. I rapidly tap my fingers on the keyboard lightly in anticipation. I close my eyes waiting for my brain to think of something.
Giving up all too quickly, I put three question marks in the spot where the title should be. I enter twice more and indent once. Then I am back at square one. I hold my head in my hands as my elbows rest upon the desk. I shake my head. I have no title, I have no story, and I have no muse.
The screen goes dark. I slowly lift my head, glaring at my computer, and move the mouse slightly. The blank page looks sad now. It has no words, it has no ideas, and it just has nothing. I glance at the question marks and then I stare at the cursor as it blinks. Even though there isn’t anything there and there isn’t anything to do, the cursor is still at work blinking away. It’s as though the cursor can’t seem to stop blinking. It needs to work. It has to work. It loves to work. It will stop at nothing. The more I stare at the blinking cursor, the more I start to think about this writing project. And then it finally hits me!
I will write about a personal experience. I will write about the truth. I will write about something that most writers have trouble with. I back space a few times and delete the three question marks. I type in, “Why Blank Pages Stay Blank.” And then—after so long—I begin to write.