Every writer fears the threat of the dreaded Writer’s Block. Sure, some might tell themselves that it doesn’t exist, that it’s only a lack of inspiration or a lazy reluctance to sit your bottom in the chair and write anyway. But sometimes, no matter what you believe, what you call it, or how much you want to put in the work, the words won’t come, at least not words that are fit for publishing.
I believe in writer’s block, but I also believe there are tools out there to help you prime your creative pump. One such is The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate links are included in this post).
For those not as familiar with The Writer’s Toolbox, it prompts you with a first, middle, and last sentence as well as a series of descriptions to include as well as a protagonist, obstacles, and motivations. With it, I’ve been able to post a few short stories in the past, which you can read here and here.
In fact, I believe in this product so much I reached out to its creator, the lovely Jamie Cat Callan, author of the upcoming Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy, and That Certain je ne sais quoi (available January 2nd, 2018 from Penguin Random House) and asked if she might be willing to sponsor a series of posts. You can read more about Jamie below.
I am delighted to report that over the next weeks I will be adding an additional flash fiction piece written utilizing this fantastic tool to my regular posting schedule. If you are a writer and don’t already have The Writer’s Toolbox. I encourage you to add it to your holiday wish list now. Seriously, I’ll wait.
Back? Great. Now without further ado – part one:
There were 17 cats living in Larry’s basement. Well, technically it was Larry’s mom’s basement, but Larry hadn’t exactly turned any of them away. Bill shook his head as he surveyed the discarded fur balls and torn up fabric on what used to be a high-end custom-made sofa. “How can you live like this?” he asked his one-time roommate. A poster of a child with wings starring up at heaven with the caption, ‘Believe’ hung from the wall.
“If you don’t take chances,” said the main in dingy striped pajamas, “you might as well not be alive.”
“And exactly what chance are you taking here, other than risking getting smothered to death in your sleep when they turn on you.”
“It’s only temporary.” Larry followed Bill’s gaze. “You know … until I finish my novel.” He pointed to a pile of blue index cards on top of an end table slash scratching post. As if on cue, a large black and white cat stretched up and knocked the pile to the floor where a gray feline promptly nipped a card with its teeth and scurried away.
“I told you, we could have worked something out.” Bill’s salary from the university lab wasn’t anything to brag about, but unlike his peers, he still hadn’t succumbed to the insane spending spree that was marriage and children. He could afford to be generous with his friends – he had so few of them. Growing up, his dad’s career had seen to that.
“You know why I had to leave.”
“Right,” Bill rolled his eyes. “The woman in 3B.”
“Yes,” Larry slammed a fist into the palm of his hand, “the woman in 3B. You were never there. You have no idea what she was like. Every time I left the apartment. Boom. There she was. It was like she was watching our place, waiting for me.”
“I still say she liked you. If you wanted her to leave you alone, all you had to do was ask her out.” Bill grinned at Larry’s sickened expression. “She’d come to her senses soon enough.”
Another cat ran by, knocking a crooked umbrella from where it rested by the doorway into Bill’s leg in the process. “If I can’t convince you to move out, can I at least buy you a new wardrobe?”
Larry looked down at his attire. “What’s wrong with what I have on?”
Bill held up a finger. “Well for starters it reeks of cat vomit.”
“It does not. I washed these just five days ago.”
“And two,” Bill extended a second finger, “you can’t go out in public dressed like that.”
“Yeah, and give me one good reason why I’d want to go out there.”
The smile left Bill’s face. “My sister’s gone.”
“Where should we go first?”
“To see Iris.” The concern reflected back in Larry’s eyes chipped Bill’s confidence away. In the hours following dinner with his father, when he’d first heard the news, he’d tried to convince himself that his sister’s disappearance was one big misunderstanding. She’d have even less interest in saying goodbye than he would. He turned to face the door while Larry ran to the back and changed and tried not to imagine what splattered blood must look like as he stared at the stain on the wall.
Will Larry finish his Great American Novel before the cats decide it would make a better litter box? Who is Iris and can she provide any more clues to the whereabouts of Bill’s sister? Tune in next week, or purchase The Writer’s Toolbox and create your own ending.
Read part two of the series here.
More about Jamie Cat Callan:
Jamie Cat Callan, the creator of The Writers Toolbox: Creative Games for the “Write” Side of Your Brain” (Chronicle Books) grew up in Connecticut and taught creative writing at Fairfield University, Yale University and Wesleyan University for many years.
She is also the author of the bestselling books French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, Bonjour, Happiness!, and Ooh La La! French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day. Her books have been translated into twenty-one languages and she has been featured in major periodicals including the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Time magazine.
Jamie has spoken to thousands of women (and more than a few men) encouraging them to embrace a life of style, charm, and grace. She has appeared on the international television news program France 24, as well as Plum TV and Better TV.
Today Jamie makes her home in New York’s Hudson Valley at La Belle Farm, where she and her husband have created a little bit of France and grow lavender and sunflowers and produce their own brand of sparkling French-inspired apple cider.