Words

She put pen to paper, poised, waiting for the words to come.  Silence.  The pen waited.

How long had it been? How many long months and years without ever putting a pen to paper, without ever writing a word?  The notebook-lined paper that used to fill so quickly now stared blankly back at her, taunting, daring her to continue.

Wasn’t this what she’d always wanted? To write and write till the words ran dry?  To live a thousand lives in the worlds of her own creations, living, growing, loving, dying, only to live again?  To learn all of who she was without ever lifting her gaze from the paper.  Yes, that was all she’d ever hoped for, longed for, and now it was gone.

The pen trembled in her cramped fingers as she tried to force the words to come.  Why wouldn’t they come?!  This used to be so easy!  She remembered how the pen would almost write on its own, the words flowing out effortlessly into sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters.  Words that created people and settings and ideas.  Words that showed – never told.  Words that illustrated – never merely described.  Magic words.

The words first came to her when she was eight. It was a book that had started them, a book that she’d read over and over and over again, savoring the words that someone else had written.  The first thing she’d ever written was a copy of the book she’d loved, but the words were her own.  The people were her own, even if the plot was not.  But she learned so much so quickly, and the words kept coming.  Her own words, her own worlds.

They came in poetry and ghost stories and fairy tales.  They came in the future and in the past.  They came in music and prose, and they lit up her life.  They came to form novels and short stories and essays.  For over a decade they helped her escape and showed her the things she knew she could never see.

The words didn’t stop in a day.  As the responsibilities of everyday life took over the words slowed from a torrent to a drizzle – a trickle – mere drops in a leaky bucket – until they were no more.  School had led to college, led to a job, led to a career.  There was always something else to take her time, and bit by bit her imagination dried up.  She hadn’t even noticed until today.

Slowly she let out the breath she’d been holding, and relaxed her grip on the pen.  Write what you know, she told herself.  What do I know?  Almost without thinking, the pen started to move across the page:

“She put pen to paper, poised, waiting for the words to come.”

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