An exercise in self-evaluation, requested by Julia, my editor, the story of a writer racked by doubts of their ability to write a good story any more.
The writer sat at his desk in the library, the warm glow of the gas lamp eschewing a pleasantly old-fashioned appearance to the room which was out of context with the rest of his home. Here in the library he felt at ease, and yet in the warm glow there began to appear a new menace lurking, this menace had become as real to him as any could be and yet few people realised it existed beyond a small group of close friends.
Situated at the back of the house of the house on the ground floor, the library remained one of two room lit by the warm glow of gas; the other room lit by gas was the study next door, a room which nobody but he entered for many years; the rooms stood in stark contrast to the fast and harsh world of writing to which he endured daily and became a haven of peace in times of stress such as now.
He sat at his laptop, ready to work and yet the only thing he found himself doing was staring idly at the blank screen and the words which once flowed, he now feared had dried and the ideas which formed the characters and worlds he wrote about had gone from his mind, “Have I reached the end?” he thought as he looked at the blank screen.
At one time he wrote freely but now apprehension appeared in his work, where freedom once roamed now roamed caution, he knew the cause of the change and even though he realised he had the power of change, he felt he lacked the will to enforce the necessary changes to free his work. The lack of sales did not prey on his soul, he had long ago forsaken the hope of any income – no matter how small – what did prey on his mind was the thought he may not as good at writing as he once hoped he may be, the dream of childhood was dying before his eyes and he realised he could nothing to stop the dreams drifting away like dust in the wind of time.
From the beginning he had been forced to struggle against the popular trends in writing, preferring to be original rather than jump on the cash train and as such his work was not seen or read, except by a small group of loyal friends and these friends kept assuring him he had a vast and growing readership for his originality of ideas, yet he remained unconvinced and the ideas became harder to formulate in stories as the days moved on.
In the group of close friends only two or three really understood the tormented soul which he daily fought, the others were unable to gain access to the part of his soul which haunted him and as such the enigma remained, did he write good horror stories, because he was a good writer or because his soul became corrupt and evil over time and this allowed him access to parts of the soul which others shied from?
He rose from the desk to walk among to his book cases and gaze at the collection of books, some signed copies and others limited editions which had been signed and numbered by authors. Among the various books which covered many genres rested one book which meant more than any other to him. The book was not signed or a limited edition but this book had been the beginning of the journey which led him to this point in his life.
He opened the glass panelled door and took out the book, the cover was torn and the pages brown with age but he refused to part with this copy as this book had been the first book he bought when he decided to become a writer, life had driven them apart and he lost track of the book in the interim years but not long ago, he decided to try and buy as many of his favourite books from his early years as possible and top of the list remained “The Silver Sword” by Ian Serraillier. The story of three children trying to trace their parents in war-torn Prague after WW2 had always been his favourite book, not only because this remained his earliest recollection of reading but the story revealed hidden charms which gave him the idea he may be able to write a good story.