Inane Thoughts: Diary of a Frustrated Writer

Today I have spent much of the evening trying to write a story of exactly 100 words. This is because my girlfriend’s parents informed me of a competition currently running in the Reader’s Digest to write a story of exactly 100 words. I doubt I would have set myself this absurd task, but the challenge immediately appealed to me. It reminded me of a challenge that the Guardian set several famous writers, based on Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story, which he once said was his best work: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

It does seem an odd challenge for the Reader’s Digest to present to its readers, it not being a magazine known for its association with imaginative literature, but more for its omnipresence in surgery waiting rooms and my grandparents’ bookshelves, alongside the Maeve Binchy books. However, I decided to take the idea on as both a personal challenge and a way to kick-start my long held up short-story writing ambitions. Either that, or it’s another way to not write a proper short story, along with this blog.

Since taking on this task it’s been an incredibly frustrating evening. I have run the gamut of emotions from anger to self-pity to hubris and relief at having typed exactly 100 words. Then I re-read what I had written, upon which I was returned to anger and self-pity. I deleted what I had written and then rocked back and forth in the foetal position for a while, feeling futile. This “foetile” moment was the low ebb. I picked myself off the floor and imagined montage music starting up. I went back to my laptop, convinced that I was going to rock the socks off of this challenge. Finally, after pretending to type to the sound of Eye of the Tiger, I decided to actually type some words. An hour later I finally had a 100 word story. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t at all funny, but on the plus side I didn’t want to delete it. It was there, staring back at me and I felt a modicum of pride. So, in the spirit of the New Year and the spirit of sharing I have decided to include it here. Any constructive criticism would be much appreciated, but please be kind, as I don’t want to have to go foetal again. Happy New Year everyone!

On the first Saturday of every other month at precisely 2p.m. Ian Culverdale would enter his local hairdresser’s. Ian would always sit in the same seat in the waiting room and wait to be called for. Upon being called for Ian would always say the same thing: “wash and cut, please Mr Carruthers”. Mr Carruthers always asked Ian to call him Roger, but Ian always soundlessly waved away this suggestion. Ian liked to have his hair cut in silence. Ian sat down in the same chair he always sat in: “My wife died, Roger. I don’t know what to do”.

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