28 days of flash — 17 of 28. A study in second person essay.
You’re too comfortable here. TV off. A single lamp creating shadows under the angles of the built-in entertainment center/dresser/desk/wardrobe on the opposite wall of this hotel room, all in varying heights of laminated plywood, glued and screwed to the studs. The blinds pulled, the too-loud in-room heater stays the 24 degree chill hovering on the other side of the window. It’s quiet. You should be able to write. But you’re hearing the tick of your nails atop the keys so you dig through your backpack for the clippers you know aren’t in there. You look anyway, and feel like you’re doing something in pursuit of the words you need to get down. You’re on deadline for the first time in a long time and the pressure feels familiar, even comfortable. You thrive on deadlines but the right moment of panic hasn’t set in yet to kick your responsibility gene into gear. Manufacturing a reason to get the words down becomes easier when that happens.
You’ve been this way your whole life. When you wrote your senior thesis on Mrs. Dalloway (instead of The Waves as you’d wanted to — Woolf was so complicated; the student teacher underestimated anyone who wasn’t in AP English), you finished the note cards you should have been writing as you were researching while sitting on the floor in front of your locker the hour before it was due. You bought the book from B. Dalton — they had to order it in. It was 1988. Woolf wasn’t in high demand. And you scanned a couple of books on mental health and World War I because of Septimus Smith, but you didn’t go deep there. It was too complex, too creative, too human for you to peel apart shell shock and the horrors of war from the party. You had the memory of pressing your fingers into the dent of your next door neighbor’s World War I helmet where it had stopped a bullet. Spared by luck, he sat there that day and told you he was alive because God spared him, It got uncomfortable. You never wrote about Septimus because you knew suicide made people uncomfortable. You know all too well how hard you work to never make anyone uncomfortable, to spare them that feeling of not knowing what to say or how to feel. Being the barometer in the room was your first job. You kept the pressure from building among the people who held too much pain. You collected it from each room like unexploded shells on the beach at Normandy.
This skill served you well, but it created a need for manufactured drama before the words can surface. You look to the writers. Woolf. Plath. Shakespeare. Hurston. Tennyson. Angelou. Parker. A thousand others whose names are stored in the card catalog in the historical section of the public library. You imagine conversations with them all when you sit at your keyboard and defuse the unexploded bombs that are still carefully guarding your too true truths. The writers will guide you. Through the so-called writer’s block and too-comfortable bed and chilly air holding you at bay for the day, go honor the creative muse. Go write.