Writer's Block This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 19, 2007
It was a Tuesday, the third of October, when my muse left me. Half­way through the third chapter of my deliciously satirical exposé, which I had so cleverly titled “The Ethical Politician,” it happened. My pen froze to the paper, a pool of ink spreading from its point. The sentence made no sense. Verbs, nouns, prepositional phrases – all words no longer relevant in my suddenly empty mind. My creativity had vanished.

High and low I searched for it. From the tip of my intellect to the depths of my emotional being I groped in the darkness, hoping to strike a creative vein. It was nowhere to be found. A stream of obscenities issued forth, searing the abruptly discontinued ­editorial. I stood alone in the barren wasteland of my once-creative mind.

I envisioned myself in the desert. The sun hung menacingly overhead, yet there was no heat. White sand stretched endlessly in every direction.
I looked up. The sun had become a strange shade of blue, casting a frail white pallor over my Saharan prison. There could be no hope in this place.

The desert vanished as my pen fell from my hand. Wait. That whole daydreaming bit, that’s creativity, right? I definitely just cre­ated something. A devastating realization cascaded down on me; the world seemed less bright. I had encountered the one thing all writers fear most – writer’s block.

I broke out in a cold sweat. All ­manner of creative stimuli had to be employed. I sipped coffee on the fire escape. I lost myself in the works of Louis Armstrong, snapping my fingers to the beat. I encountered the staggering enormity of it all as a flock of geese soared overhead. Truly uninspiring. I stared hopelessly at my brown metal desk. It was the sort of desk you’d expect to see in a police station, or a crematorium. Thin metal was sprayed with just enough paint to conceal its grayness. Cheap metal handles on the drawers, a plain wooden slab for the surface – the least stimulating piece of furniture I had ever seen.

Come to think of it, the study itself was pretty drab. The decidedly Victorian motif had been designed to channel my late nineteenth-century novelist. The mauve walls stood bare save for a threadbare tapestry. A stout, curtained window allowed the only natural light into the room. A green and brown afghan spread from the desk to the windowed wall. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been proud. The antiquity, however, had lost its charm. I felt as if the brown desk and stagnant, outdated study were ­sapping my creative ­potential.

I could feel the hairs on my arms rise as the imagination being pulled from my body leaked from their ends in little wisps, drifting lazily to the ceiling and fading into nothingness. The problem was apparent: my study was a boring pit of creative doom. The solution was obvious: I had to renovate, and in doing so reclaim my muse from the clutches of writer’s block. Yes, then it would be all right, once my creativity returned.

Over the next few weeks, my study began to be transformed, starting with a series of framed paintings bearing the pastel likenesses of various fruits. (My favorite was the pomegranate: what a striking shade of violet!) The afghan was replaced by glossy wood floor. Malevolent creativity hummed and crackled at my fingertips as I tossed the tapestry into the garbage and heaved the afghan off the fire escape. I ambled smugly into the study, a brilliant cloud of visionary might swirling impatiently around my head, waiting to be unleashed on some hapless slip of parchment. That is, it was waiting until the room was perfect.

Perfection arrived the next day at precisely three o’clock post meridian. The day had consisted of wandering dazedly from store to store in hopes of finding a replacement for that brown abomination of a desk. Oh, how I loathed it. I had been everywhere, from the low-end stores with the haggard-looking salesmen to the upscale boutiques, heady perfume richly encompassing the overpriced collections. Ironically, perfection had been waiting for me in a local thrift shop.

As I shouldered open the heavy glass door I noticed a rickety table laden with bread and bagels; a makeshift sign labeled hastily in large magic marker read, FREE. It seemed this is where I would be doing the majority
of my grocery shopping should my creativity fail me indefinitely. I started ­uncomfortably through the store.

Rack upon rack of donated clothes stood between me and the furniture section, placed conveniently against the
far wall. I pushed through, holding my breath against the overpowering scent of cheap fabric softener. I emerged victoriously into an array of battered desks, lumpy couches, and sagging armchairs. Slowly I picked my way through. Too dull. Too small. Too big. Scratched. As I passed a tragically neglected piece of what must have once been a gorgeous baroque dining set, my foot caught a nearby table leg and I toppled onto the dusty floor.

I lay sprawled out, contemplating my complete failure. And then I saw it. The double doors leading to the back room swung open, and a short man pushing a cart emerged. On it stood the most glorious piece of furniture I had ever seen. It was a desk like no other, ovular in nature from the bird’s eye perspective, perfectly flush drawers blending seamlessly into its seduc­tively curvy frame. I could feel the ­creativity trying to force its way out, oozing through the stitches holding the leather pad to the writing surface. I suddenly knew that I had been put on this earth to own that desk and pen the greatest literary works of our time on its surface. I scrambled to my feet and rocketed toward the man with the cart, hurdling over scattered ottomans and credenzas as I went.

“Is this for sale?” I asked, gasping for breath.

“Uh, yeah,” he replied, puzzled.

“I’ll take it.”

After quite a bit of leveraging, the desk rested in the bed of my truck. I tossed a five spot in the little man’s ­direction. After all, he deserved it. A faint breeze rustled the leaves strewn about the parking lot, carrying the faint spectral voice of my muse from the bed of the pickup. I followed the breeze all the way home, speeding through red lights and deftly weaving through the cacophony of angry horns.

At long last I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex. After a horrendously long elevator ride – they always seem to dawdle at the most ­crucial times – I threw open the door
to my apartment and confronted that brown abomination seated betwixt me and my imprisoned creativity.

With tremendous malice and the darkest of ambition, I tore the drawers from it, heaving them from the fire escape in what I hoped was the general direction of the dumpster. However, even without the drawers it was too heavy. And so I enlisted the assistance of my neighbor, Chad.

“Are you all right?” he inquired, surveying my sweat-soaked T-shirt and malevolent grin.

“Oh, fine,” I answered, wringing my hands. “Got a minute? I need your help removing my old writing desk. Sapping my creativity, it is.”

“There,” I said, with a dramatic ­gesture, “is the abomination.”

We hurled it from the fire escape, and never had I been so satisfied. High-fives were in order.

“Could I borrow your muscle for just one more minute?” I asked.

There was something not quite right about Chad that day. An underlying distrust tainted his every word – to be investigated at another time perhaps. After yet another painstakingly long ­elevator ride we regarded the pickup.

“I see,” said Chad.

“Oh, come now,” I chided. “It’ll ­only take a minute.”

As it turns out, it took 30. The glorious oval masterpiece finally stood victoriously in the study, basking in the lavish caress of a sunbeam.

“Thank you, Chad,” I murmured, ­enraptured by the warm glow surrounding the desk.

He walked out, slamming the door.
I continued to stare. I slowly ran my fingertips over the leather surface; the torrential flow of creativity threatened to crush my being. Paper and pen were suddenly necessary for survival.

The next three days were a blur. I neither ate nor drank. I slept in fits.
I wrote 47 pages the first day, 68 the second, and an even 100 on the third.
I was a god behind that desk, my pen
a scepter commanding creative forces previously unknown. The once-casual ­inspiration had exploded ­into full-blown epiphany. I wrote 14 pages about the striking combination of wind and a forest reflected in the surface of a lake, and they were all brilliant. Food, drink, sleep – all trivial ­afterthoughts in the exquisite mind of an immortal like myself.

On the twelfth day sans human nourishment, it happened. Again. My pen froze, the ominous ink spreading from its bleeding tip. No way could this happen. The walls, the floor, the desk, it was all perfect. Never had there been such inspirational furnishings. I tried to return to work, but once again my muse had vanished.

The creativity that had oozed from the stitching atop the desk had congealed, stemming the flow of my immortal genius. My torrential output of poetic prose had been replaced with a white-hot flow of homicidal anger. I tore the fruit from the walls and hurled the frames to the floor.

I kicked and screamed until my throat burned and my legs gave out. I struck the glossy floor face first, glass from the frames digging into my cheek. I could feel blood, hot and thick, running down my neck, soaking my shirt. I was going to die. I giggled in the spreading pool of blood, contemplating the irony in the mortal death of a literary deity, a truly Achillean phenomenon. Slowly, the room faded into darkness.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 174 comments. Post your own now!

Jeuneflower said...
Jun. 19, 2010 at 11:11 am
I think you did a fabulous job! I would be so grateful if you would look over my short story, Golden Dreams and give comments  on how to improve it! I would love it if anybody would!
Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 19, 2010 at 9:34 am
I liked the voice of this piece. It was brilliant. Although about the death- was it metaphorical or literal? If it's not real, if it's just his way of expressing his frustration (like how 'I'm a god' describes his excitement), it would be nice if that point was clarified a little. If he really does die, the ending seems a little bit jarring and random and not really part of the story. It was a brilliant piece, though.
Sarah C. said...
May 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm
i really love the whole story except the ending--it's a little gory and i don't think he should have died... n.e. way other than thatwell done!!
la.musica.de.la.noche said...
May 28, 2010 at 11:42 am


I loved this piece, really.

I don't think the vocab was too hard as some people are saying, but I read too many classics.  I loved the style of writing that you use, its fantastic!

Nani5 said...
May 6, 2010 at 6:01 pm
it was that good that i couldn't read all of it at once
pranavmeno replied...
May 6, 2010 at 8:08 pm
I wish I had a desk like that! 
rinrin said...
May 6, 2010 at 7:31 am
it was a good story but the dialogue is a bit...odd. in real life, who speaks like that? and all the long words make it a little inaccessible.
charlottegirl replied...
Jun. 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm
i disagree. i think the dialogue is what makes the piece so intriguing and inspiring.
cyanidesun replied...
Jul. 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm
I also disagree; maybe I don't speak like that, but I certainly think like that. And what is writing but a person's thoughts poured onto paper through ink?
Cherie S. replied...
Sept. 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm
I have to agree with rinrin. Keep in mind that this audience is a majority of writer's who may talk like that. The majority of people don't.
DevinQuin replied...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 7:00 pm
Actually I've met a person who speaks like the main character in real life and sometimes I do too in a particular "mood", it was honestly extremely well done.
Cherie replied...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

1) Yeah I'm sure some people do but denying that it doesn't seem natural is just hurting your own writing.

2) Applauding your own writing that people have specifically pointed out is a tiny mistake isn't going to get you anywhere. Take criticism to make your writing better, not to retain pride. Pride only guarantees faulty writing and won't get you anywhere.

DevinQuin replied...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 8:17 pm
The way the main character speaks give people insight into his eccentricity especially compared to the other characters who speak normally, there is a difference between pride and character development.
Cherie replied...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 8:41 pm
You can call it that, but if you want to take things seriously as a writer, learn how to accept criticism from the audience, the people who actually read your writing, rather than just defending it. 
DevinQuin replied...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm
I'm just trying to point out that because the contrasting dialogues are odd it helps the reader to understand that this writer probably is actually 'insane' especially compared to the 'normal' people he is surrounded by.
poisonivy said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm

A true work of art.


JeanGrey said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm
*applause from the satisfied audience* Bravo! Love the insanity :)
Nala96 said...
Mar. 23, 2010 at 7:27 pm
You've got a very twisted talent! I'm very impressed! :-)
mkgirl395 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 23, 2010 at 7:11 pm
I could definitely tell that a guy wrote this. Even though most guys don't depict things in such vivid detail, that writing style of yours gave it away. This was a great topic to write on, and somewhat ironic at that! It was a bit too dark for my liking, but to each, his own! I'd cut out that bit about Chad being different that day. That sounded like a desperate attempt to incorporate some intrigue into the story; he didn't come back in. Quite descriptive, and an interesting story!
deardiary said...
Mar. 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm
The ending was extremly gory and make the character seem alot more psychotic then he actually was...or so I thougt. I found the part about Chad having issues somewhat random. It is a very smoothe read though.:)
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