Hashes, Dashes, and Strokes

Cameron sat at his desk, blankly staring at the white luminescent screen displaying a blank page of his word document. How had he done this so many times before? How did this night go when he wrote his bestseller? Did he eat pizza rolls then too or did he eat a turkey sandwich with Doritos? Did he eat anything at all or did he only have coffee? Probably just coffee. He liked coffee. Every writer does. Wakes up the mind and helps the creativity flow and paint the picture on the page. Maybe he should make coffee. That may be why he can’t write. No, it’s too late. No coffee. Is it just the taste and/or aroma that get him in the zone or the caffeine? He doesn’t own any decaf, his father always said it was a waste of time. Caffeine was the point. Did he drink too much caffeine in the day? Doctors say there’s a limit on how much caffeine you should dr-…

He sucked in a deep breath of air and slowly exhaled. When he looked back at the screen, he saw no hashes, dashes, or strokes. Still pure white with nothing grasping out, trying to capture his eye’s attention. How did he do this when he wrote his bestseller? He just needed to recreate that. Was that method the golden ticket? He couldn’t be sure. Ever since his third book hit the New York Times bestseller list, he’d been trying to recreate it. It was eight years ago. This was book number seven, that was book number three. He kept trying, unsure if he was still writing for himself or for his audience. Unsure if he wrote the bestseller for him or an audience. The books to follow weren’t flops but they weren’t bestsellers either. He had been at the top of the literary food chain for a brief period before being quickly pictured and handed his little trophy or medal or whatever they give authors with a single bestseller and then carted off for the next one to get his/her brief time in the literary limelight before the same cart returned to carry them off. 

It was difficult. He was having a hard time. It almost made him not want to write anymore. The pressure, the expectations, the terror. What if he wrote a flop? What if everyone hated it? What if he wrote a book similar to the bestseller but people were over it and his once delicious recipe was no longer desired? What if he wrote something so bad that even his most loyal fans gave up on him and no one read anything he attempted to publish? But, he thought, what if he wrote another bestseller? What if this day, this moment, was the beginning of his rise back up the ladder, back up to prominence where people talked about him the way they talked about Foster Wallace, Scott Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley? What if this blank white page was the start of it? All he’s left to do is write. 

Cameron placed his fingers over the ASDF and JKL: keys. He closed his eyes, leaned his head right then left, forcing the cracks between the vertebrae, inhaled, then exhaled, feeling the carbon dioxide as it slowly left his body. He looked at the page, pushed away the negative distracting thoughts, and began punching at his keyboard, filling the page with hashes, dashes, and strokes.


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