The ol’ Burst

It’s a dark and stingy hotel room, one that begs for the wallpaper to be changed and an air freshener smelling of lilacs to be installed. It’s later in the evening, a restaurant meal consisting of more carbs than your doctor could possibly imagine is sitting in your stomach. The work day was rough. Meetings stretching farther than your Outlook calendar could handle. There’s something insipid on the TV, maybe a basketball game with two teams you don’t care about, or whatever movie HBO’s squeezed into the timeslots between airings of the couple series you don’t watch.

There’s writing to be done, you think. Stuff I could do right now that would bring my life closer to where I want it to be. You can picture it. A few hundred words. Maybe a thousand. Some small amount that lets you write the day off as not a total loss. At the next commercial, the laptop comes out. Turns on. Sits there. The word processor opens, the cursor blinks at you, like a dare.

Some inane ad starts blaring and, not quite having the will to turn the TV off entirely, you press the mute button. Clever trick. Only now the silence is suffocating. Thoughts are going to veer from the writing to what in life led you to be alone in the middle of nowhere with only the whir of the air conditioner for company.

Aha! Music!

With a couple of clicks you’ve popped open Spotify, or Pandora, or for the truly desperate among you, Windows Media Player. Now there’s a minor crisis. What to play? What’s going to get you in the zone at this time of night, when the thin sheets and lumpy mattress are still, somehow, beckoning you to embark upon the frazzled battle for sleep in this place?

Eventually, realizing the little time you have is slipping away, you click wildly at a playlist. Not caring what happens. Something starts to play. Your ears don’t immediately begin to bleed, so what the hell. Let’s get on with it.

At last there’s a click to the processor. The first tentative keystrokes. For the next thirty, forty-five, hour you punch out a few hundred, thousand, fifteen-hundred words. It’s a grueling process. You feel urges every couple of minutes to call it quits, claim that the day was hard and any normal person would understand. But dreams don’t have time for excuses. You gut it out.

Brush your teeth with relief. Tap the alarm into place. Plug the phone in and lay down on those thin sheets. You didn’t feel any accomplishment today, until that last hour. Until you put something down, made a step, however small, towards the place you want to be. For once, the arguing next door doesn’t keep you up. The lights bleeding in through the window don’t wake you. There’s no random noise in the hall that you can hear.

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