February 22nd – Simpleminded twists
It should have been getting easier by now, not harder.
This was his fourth novel. The first one had been a breakthrough: years of toil, of writing and getting nowhere, of being on the point of giving it all up, because, seriously, what was the point in all of this time, all of this energy, all of this creativity being expended when all it resulted in was more rejections rolling in? It couldn’t be worth it, could it? There had to better things in life to be getting on with.
So he was on the verge of giving up when someone said yes. And his first novel (ignoring the raft of drafts that sat in various stages on his hard drive) was published, to mildly positive reviews. Which grew more positive as the sales rolled in. People liked it, people read it, devoured it, even, in their hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands. The Dark Line topped best seller lists, was translated, translated again, optioned for a film. Crime, in his case, paid. And paid well.
He gave up his teaching job.
He wrote a sequel, The Dead Zone, and this time the film was made, and he bought a house to write in, and another one on the southern tip of the continent to think in. He went to parties, launches, gave readings, toured universities. It was fun.
He was still having fun when Long Distance topped the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic, with The Dead Zone still on the top ten. He had stories to tell, and he was telling them, and these stories were being talked about over dinners and breakfasts, on buses and trains, in offices and classrooms.
Which is why, about a third of the way into his fourth novel, which didn’t have a title as yet (but he was sure it would come to him as it had for the first three), he was a little concerned. Nothing was happening. He had all of the words, he just didn’t know where to put them, and the steady stream of emails from his publishers and Hollywood agent asking how the next book was coming on were a little disturbing. Because it wasn’t.
He’d found the first three easy to write. Everything just flowed. Somewhere between Shakespeare and Dan Brown, he liked to think, not high art but not too easy either. A formula that worked. Sentences that flowed, that went somewhere, that led the reader on and then left them wanting more, baffled, twists that made them gasp, unable to put the book down, twists that had translated so well onto the cinema screen.
That was it.
A simpleminded twist. That was all it needed.
He refreshed the page, signed out of his email account, flexed his fingers over the keys.
He started to write.
All was still, silent. He left the body in the stairwell, blood trickling onto the cold concrete steps. The gun, cooling, nestled in his pocket. He didn’t see, as he descended, the twitch of a finger, the clench of a hand. He didn’t know, as only a few did, about the steel plate on his victim’s skull, the result of cricket ball impact twenty years ago. He was out of the door and down the street, collar turned against the wind, as his victim got to his knees…
Inspired by a prompt from here