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The first word of a novel is always the hardest, heck, the first sentence is even harder. Knowing that you have nine thousand or so of those little black marks on the page to go is enough to kill a man, at least enough to kill a man like me. My name is Benjamin Futen I'm an author, if you want to call it that. I have published three novels the names of which society will never remember. But this one they will, everyone will remember this one this is going to be my big brake... if I can start it. I can't believe I waited this long I have a week to finish this stupid book. And yet that dumb black line keeps blinking away.
I have severe ADD, attention deficit disorder, that's why my study is bland; it's on purpose so I don't get distracted. The walls are covered in leather with two bookshelves set into one of the walls. The bookshelves are filled with books about theology, art, poetry writing, stories, pretty much the general run of the mill study there is a fire place on the wall opposite the bookshelves and then my desk opposite the door. Above the fireplace hangs a civil war musket with a ball and charge still in the barrel. Other than that the walls are bare. I'm sitting here staring at that evil line taunting me "now you see me, now you don't". "The first word, come on Ben", I say to myself, I hear the clicking of my key board as I pound the first heroic word, "There... that wasn't so hard now was it." I lie to myself a lot. I pound away till I have the first three pages filled with setting, plot development, and characters. Time for a coffee brake I scoot back my chair and walk around my desk and to the door.
As I walk into my apartment I am greeted by the joyful sunset over the California beach outside my window. My cat brushes up against my leg as I walk. I grab my jacket off the hook by my front door and head downstairs slowing down to act cool for the girl in 4A. As I reach the bottom of the stairs I walk outside and across the street to the coffee shop and grab some joe. Back to my apartment. Back up the stairs a gentle wave to 4A and back to my study.
As I sit down in my comfy wingback chair I decide to read what I have it's about a man named George, an author ironically, he's a lonely man with writers block trying to finish his big novel. I shut my laptop and laugh audibly to myself, "I am writing about myself". And it's true I unconsciously wrote about myself. I lay in bed trying to decide to scrap my unintentional autobiography or finish and see where I end up. I decided to finish my story. I reach up and turn off my light and almost instantaneously fade away.
I squint my eyes as the California sun wakes me. I stand and walk to my kitchen where I get my already brewed coffee. To the study. As I sit I can't help but think of the girl in 4A, we have exchanged a few conversations mostly about my writing or the weather. Twenty pages in and my stomach starts growl I look at the time, noon, I realize that at this pace if I stop for meal brakes I will never get it done I decide to go to the grocery store. As I arrive I head straight for the health food aisle were they have the disgusting protein bars, you know the ones that can replace a whole meal. I pick up three boxes of the most appetizing box pay and head home. Back to the study.
I walk into my study with the next weeks meals in hand and start pounding again. All of a sudden I hear a different kind of pounding like someone knocking at my door. I stand and walk to the front door and peer through the whole, "it's 4A!" I quickly open the door and with a tiny bit too anxious voice say, "HELLO" she says hello back and goes on to explain how she has run out of the proverbial cup of sugar and is wondering if I have some. I wave her in to my apartment and waft her to a chair as I walk
into the kitchen to collect the sugar. I get the sugar and return. With a dorky smile I hand her the sugar and she thanks me and leaves. Gone. "That's it" I ask myself. Back to the study
After four sleepless days of nonstop writing I have it done, tied up all the ends as though not to disobey the great Hemingway rule, all but one. George is still lonely I went through the novel five, six, seven times each time I couldn't find a way to have George end up with the girl of his dreams. I jump as the phone on the edge of my desk rings I answer it and a beautiful voice is on the other end its 4A she tells me that she is going a party tonight and is wondering if I would like to come. Overjoyed I look at my calendar and in one moment my joy turns into frustration today is highlighted and bold letters spell out the words MEETING WITH PUBLISHER I get back on the line and inform 4A she understands and we hang up the phone.
I lay down on my couch to take an early morning nap before the meeting I stare at the beach as I slowly fade away.
I am woken up by phone alarm telling me I have a meeting in two hours. I get up and put on a shirt and tie and walk out planning on spend an hour in the coffee shop before the meeting as I walk out of my apartment I see 4A I think of George, do I want to end up that way, "say something Ben", I say to myself, I walk up to her and ask her about the party later that night she tells me that it she actually isn't going because she doesn't have a date. My inner voice nags at me "She's free Ben Ask her to coffee" I argue back, "what about the meet..." I think of George. "Coffee" I ask abruptly. "You wana grab some coffee?" She nods. As we walk down the stairs I extend my hand and tell her my name she grasps my hand and tells me hers. Anna.
We sit in a café for hours talking, laughing. I miss my meeting. Some books just aren't meant to be read... just like some guns aren't meant to be fired.