by Jon Paul Olivier

I crumpled the form letter and threw it in anger, missing the basket. The sound it made when it hit the floor was hollow, empty. Another damn rejection. There were tears at the corners of my eyes this time. I can’t keep doing this. I can’t go on. I won’t. Then I felt the tap on my shoulder. I looked around. No one was there, I was alone in the room, but I definitely felt it. What was that?

The rejection was still there, crumpled on the floor next to the basket, still all too real. The balled up paper stared back at me, accusingly. It was a symbol of my failure. I had put my very soul into that story but no agent wanted to accept it.

I took a deep breath, felt the rush of adrenalin, the sweat of frustration. Then, as if a cool breeze blew through the room bringing freshness, I turned to the keyboard. I hesitated but an instant before I clicked on New. It was scary to see a blank page appear. Hell, it was downright frightening to start all over. I was abandoning something I had created to begin something new and unknown. There was that tap on my shoulder again. I actually brushed it off that time, not even taking my eyes off the screen.

I faced the blank page with terror. If I was going to start all over, where to begin? I closed my eyes, squeezed them shut hard, and sucked in a breath. This time, I moved my shoulder just in time so the imaginary tap only brushed me. I think I smiled when I did that. Then, with a chill that made me shudder the idea came to me, from somewhere.

My fingers moved over the keyboard. I was now typing with a vengeance. The idea was incomplete, still forming even as I typed. Images swam into clarity and words appeared as the story came together in my mind. From my thoughts through my fingers to the keys, a new book took form. It was a story I didn’t know I had in me. It was a story I didn’t have in me, before. The only sound in the room was the soft click of the keys. I never looked up, unaware of how much time passed as I typed. As I created.

When I stopped for a break, I looked up at the large windows. To my surprise, it was dark outside. The day had slipped away while I was absorbed in the story. I couldn’t quit for the night, though. Not yet. I grabbed a quick snack and sat back at the computer. There were too many words in me that had to come out. Words that needed to come out. I kept at it, a thousand or so words an hour, not wanting to stop. Not able to stop.

It was after two in the morning when I finally had to stop to get some sleep. I was back at the keyboard only a few hours later. The story couldn’t get written fast enough. My fingers and forearms felt numb but I couldn’t stop.

Five days later, I reached the end. I sat back and breathed deeply. It was done. I got up and paced around the room, reliving the story in my mind and unable to be still. Finally I sat back down, scrolled to the top of the document and read what I had written. This was good. This was real, yet not real. It was fiction that felt too real to be anything less than reality.

Two months later, I was back at my desk, this time signing my name on the contract that had just come by FedEx. I had a little smile on my face. I no longer felt the tap on my shoulder. My muse had done her part, had finished whispering her story in my ear. I had told it, had shared her experience with the world. I felt like an author.