The Great Abyss of Writer’s Block

I forgot that I was supposed to post this afternoon, and I’m feeling like crap, so you get something funny today:

“Damn it!” Jeremy smacked his desk. He wasn’t quite so far gone as to hit his laptop but he needed to hit something and the desk was a good substitute.

Another perfect scene, played out in his mind in all its wonderful color and detail. He was nearly blinded by the sheen of machined steel, barely able to see the reflection of his main character’s space suit as she tried desperately to fix the broken sensor on the New Earth Worldship. The muffled sound of her breathing echoed in his ears and the smell of nervous sweat made him wrinkle his nose.

Kaitlyn Hernandez-Jones was totally fictional, of course, but Jeremy had brought her to life in a hundred and fifty pages of his novel. His imagination had conjured her into being one day after watching a movie, ‘The Martian’, about a man who was stranded on Mars after the rest of his mission went haywire.

The story morphed as Jeremy wrote, and his end product bore almost no resemblance to the source material. Kaitlyn lived on an even more futuristic site, an artificial planet that, if Jeremy was being honest with himself, looked a bit like the Death Star. After consulting with his characters, he’d named it the New Earth Worldship. Practical people that they were, they wanted a name that would communicate the purpose of the ship in simple terms. Guido, one of the wackier data analysts, had voted to call it XKR-346, but the others had shouted him down for being too esoteric.

To keep Guido from rebelling, Jeremy had agreed to call the vibration sensors XKR-346s, and now one of those same sensors had conked out at the worst moment in the story. Jeremy wasn’t too worried; Kaitlyn was an expert mechanic and had grown up working on the delicate instruments that kept the worldship safe. She’d been born on the ship, as was common in the world of the novel, and had inherited her love of tinkering with machinery from her grandfather, one of the original inhabitants of the worldship and the man who had kept it running smoothly in the early days, when no one was sure the project would survive. Living up to her grandfather’s legacy was supposed to be Kaitlyn’s emotional arc, and so far Jeremy had achieved a balance of worry and satisfaction that he thought would tug at the reader’s heartstrings.

The novel was shaping up wonderfully. Now he had sat down to write the climactic scene that had played out in his mind earlier that day, and the words wouldn’t come. Jeremy growled, wishing he could use some of his more colorful curse words to relieve his frustration. But Chris and Maddie were playing in the next room, and Jeremy didn’t want to hear it from Denise when one of them started imitating his bad language. The last time one of the kids had said, “But Mommy, Daddy says that all the time!” Denise had given him a look that would freeze magma.

He grumbled something unintelligible even to himself and set to work. Since the scene wouldn’t come easily, he would have to force it onto the page. Not impossible, but it was tiring and usually took longer. He made a few notes on the timing of the scene and began typing, stopping every few sentences to make sure he’d kept up the tension.

An hour later, he leaned back in his chair and flexed his fingers while he reread his work. It was okay, but not at all like what he’d envisioned. He muttered insults against whatever god of writing had stolen his inspiration.

Deep in the recesses of Jeremy’s closet, the Great Abyss chuckled evilly. He loved to steal away words, especially when the writer was up against a deadline and needed inspiration right now. It warmed the space where his heart should be, to see the wailing and gnashing of teeth that erupted when they realized that their perfect scene, so dear to their hearts, had vanished without a trace. Jeremy Miller was only the latest in a long line of writers who’d felt the slow creeping malice of the Great Abyss.

Now what to do with the spoils of his little war? Stealing scenes was fun, but he preferred to give them away as soon as possible. Scenes with triumphant- or even merely competent- heroes lost their charm quickly. The characters began to yell at him after a while, scolding him for stealing away their moments to shine and occasionally getting angry that he had made their author cry.

The Great Abyss would have shaken his head if he had one. Silly characters. Some of them were annoyingly attached to their authors. He took a vicious pleasure in tormenting them. The ones who rebelled against their authors weren’t nearly as interesting.

But Kaitlyn got along with Jeremy, and the Great Abyss didn’t act quickly, she would realize what had happened and begin yelling at him. She might even throw a wrench at him, which would be rather tiresome though not painful.

An idea came to him. A wonderfully, marvelously evil idea, and he cackled darkly as he swooped away, leaving Jeremy cursing at his desk and taking the climactic scene with him. What would Kaitlyn do in the hands of Marybeth O’Brian, the purple-prosing romance writer?
The End.

On a different note, my latest novella is now available on Amazon:

valor cover 6.0Alain de Kerauille wants to be a knight more than anything in the world, to win as many jousting tournaments as he can, become wealthy and famous, and gain the hand of the fair lady Emma. As a squire in a noble household, he’s well on his way to success, and when he’s chosen to joust in a celebratory tournament, all of his dreams seem within his grasp. Until his rivalry with a fellow squire reaches the boiling point, threatening to destroy everything Alain has worked for and send his future crashing down around him.


  1. I have a character in my current piece who is writing his great novel, which is fun to do. Well, for me and hopefully the reader, not so much for my character who has been conscripted into the army, as a cook. He can’t cook, but the drill instructor thought it would be better that he made bad food than fill the heads of people with stupid stories.

  2. Yeah. It so rarely hits the page the same way it existed in my head. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve hunted for a more recent file . . . and finally have to admit that I never wrote down that scene that I want to refresh my memory of. Because the Great Abyss stole the words.

    1. Heck! I wrote out a major scene in longhand while seated at Peter and Dorothy Grant’s living-room table. Peter saw me writing it. The cats saw me writing it. Now I can’t find those pages for love nor money!

  3. And then he realized that wsa a different book entirely, and grumbled as he tried to rebuild the scene

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