Turn The Page

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about the first time I experienced writer's block.

Submitted: May 30, 2016

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Submitted: May 30, 2016



I was sat at my desk that morning. An open book before me, blank and lifeless. For hours on end I stared at the paper. The white of the page seemed to blind me like a small sun in my black book of thought. My head was laid to rest in my hands, my arms arched upwards toward my head, creating a triangle shape from my arms and the surface of the table. My elbows, pressed on the table top, were beginning to ache and feel numb. My mouth was dry and as I shot a gaze to my glass of orange juice, I realised that I lacked the strength and effort to remove my left arm from my head and take a drink.


My attention returned to my blank page. On the left hand side was the story I was working on. The entire page was littered with lines and denied separation as paragraphs. I remembered how enthusiastic I had been yesterday. I was sat at the same rectangular, brown desk, scribbling away at the book, filling three pages. I emerged from my trance after two hours and marvelled at my progress. What changed after less than twelve hours? Less than half an entire day and I’d somehow gone from an enthusiastic child on a rollercoaster to a senseless, mindless vegetable. What the hell happened?


The more I stared at the page, the stranger it became. The still, straight lines began to blur and shake. They were moving. Strafing from left to right, one line would separate and two lines would merge. It was disorienting and gave me a severe headache but my eyes refused to move. Over and over the lines would fly on the page, laughing at my lack of imagination. Then they began to flash. All kinds of colours; blue, yellow, green, red, purple and more. An entire palette flashing and shifting in front of me. It was so bad that I almost felt the page vibrate as the coloured lines flashed. I blinked and it all stopped.


The page became still again. No colour, no movement, just simple, still, black lines on a bright white page. I took a moment to blink a few times and, without knowing, my arms broke away from their supportive role under my head in order to rub my eyes and help me remember where I was. I looked around for a while and tried to remember what I was doing. Everything in my room was the same except for one thing. The page hadn't changed. Still blank. I don’t know why but, for some reason, I expected the pages to be filled with rushed and excited writing, forming a middle or an ending to the previous story I started.


I decided to turn back and read the story I’d written. It was a dark fantasy short about an elf hunter. I guessed that I was going for something really fucked up. Elves aren’t usually viewed as dark, evil or scary. There was blood too. Lots and lots of blood. Just as I enjoyed a good old fashioned slasher film, I equally loved a great amount of gore in my stories. Obviously, you need to have a good storyline. Engage the reader, have realistic characters, all the usual odds and sods, but there’s nothing wrong with a beheading thrown in or some internal bleed-outs scattered through the story progression.

I always seemed to go a bit too in depth on the gory parts. As I was sat there, thinking about this, I was reminded of a time when I fully described a surgical removal of a skeleton from a child’s body. An entire paragraph that detailed the peeling of skin and parting of flesh as the doctor removed every bone from the boy’s body. That surgery took me an entire page to describe. I had so much to say that day.


Suddenly, I was snapped back to reality. Like a flash, my memory had no longer  been my focus. I was brought back to the page, still empty. I held my pen in my hand, staring anxiously at the endless white. It was happening again. The black lines had completely gone and only the white page remained. I couldn’t help but stare, mesmerised, into the snowstorm of paper before me.


For some reason I didn’t wonder why the black lines were gone. All I could do was seethe with anger. It's just a stupid story. I didn’t care if it ended up being crap, I would’ve made do with writing a load of shit if it meant finishing the damn story. The blank white page was antagonising me. I still don’t understand why I was getting so pissed off at the page. I wanted to burn it, throw it out of the window, rip it apart or just leave the desk but I was immobilised.


Eventually, I closed the book. It felt so strange, being away from my desk, not having a pen in my hand, looking at the black cover of my story book. For some bizarre reason, I felt more lost in the real world than I did in that blank space. Being in an endless field of white, left alone with nothing but your thoughts and the silence. It was preferable to being faced with my small room. Procrastination became my best friend when I started doing all sorts of things to get my ideas flowing. I spent at least half an hour looking out of the window at first. Up into the sky at the blue canvas, completely devoid of clouds. It was just as blank as the page and equally as blank as my brain. I withdrew from the window and took a short rest on my bed. My eyes were closed but I was yet to attain some sleep. Lying on my back, my face pointed to the ceiling, I began to strain for an idea, an image or even a small thought. I had all sorts of weird shit go through my mind, one of them being an orange cactus wearing aviators and riding a blue Kawasaki Ninja motorbike.


Don’t ask me how but this gave me an idea on a new story to write. Don’t ask. A random thought in my head can lead to anything. I rushed back to my desk, opened my book and saw the blank space next to my previous story. What should I do now?

I wanted to write this story but I didn’t want to stop the previous one. Then it happened. I just turned the page and began writing. It felt great to be in this position again. Sat at my desk , scribbling away at the pages and filling it with words. So what thought occurred when I was lying in bed? Simple. Nothing. I had no thought process, no ideas, nothing. Just a blank page. I eventually decided to give my new story a name, a name that would always remind me how to handle unfinished stories. Turn the page.

© Copyright 2018 J.J. Matthews. All rights reserved.

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