There is not enough coffee in my room to write a full story. I am stunted.

There is only enough coffee in my room to write half a story.

I wish it were not true. I wish I had enough coffee to write a full story.

People reading this deserve a full story. I deserve a full story.

My subject matter – in this case the effects of coffee as a stimulant on my brain and its role in my ability to write a full story-  deserves a full story. I have a lot to say on the matter. It is a subject that is near and dear to my coffee-stimulated heart.

But I cannot write. I simply cannot create. Not today. Not in this large room. Not this way. I am stunted.

I find myself wishing that I did not need the coffee at all. I wish this story would not need to exist.

I wish desperately that I use a voice-over command or thought control and think, magically compelling action.

This is what I’d say:

Listen up vascular system!

Listen up blood vessels carrying nutrients my cells! Listen up viscous liquid running through me at all times which turns red when exposed to oxygen! We’re about to start a marathon and I need you at the starting line. In your fancy gear. Fluorescent shoes. Perky. No cramps. I need you relaxed, breathing deeply, inhaling fully and then I need you to GO! FAST! FURIOUS! Run like maniacs! Deliver nutrients to my cells rapidly at the speed of light divided by something that would slow it down but still allow it to be fast. Expand and flow and bring all sorts of little excellent things to my cells, especially those that abide in the area of Ellen’s body we call the “brain.”

If only voice-over commands could work and compel my vascular system to run fast and furiously. 

Sadly, so sadly, they don’t. Only intravenous caffeinated demands at a certain volume compel such action.

Were things different, I’d tell you how this affects me. How this gets to me. What I do about it. I love talking about difficult things. How I survive when I don’t have enough coffee to write a full story.

But I can’t.

I can’t create, can’t wring truth out of things. Because there is not enough coffee in my room to do so.

There is not enough coffee in my room to write a full story.

There is only enough coffee in my room to write half a story. No amount of unbridled discipline shall ever make that right.

It is a sad state of affairs.

(At least it’s not my fault.)

Story Break

When writing this, I couldn’t help but remember Dorothy Parker’s short story The Pencil, a sardonic and hilarious piece about a bitter and wistful writer, cooped inside, slave to desk and instrument, who nevertheless finds something to write about in the middle of her defiant act of not writing. Selected Shorts recently produced a celebration of Dorothy Parker, called You Might As Well Live. Listen to Heather Burns reads The Pencil to its fullest humor in this delightful podcast.

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  • Jedrzej

    haha even before getting to the “I cannot write”, I knew you were having trouble writing. I too go into the repetitive, deliberate, caveman, unnecessarily-detailed, exaggerated, manic and pointless style of writing to drag out the word count when I can’t write. In other words, I loved it.

    • TOTALLY! I get so massively and unnecessarily meta when I cannot write. Self-indulgent or something. And it always turns out caveman-y. Why is that?!



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