Writer’s Block written by Miriam Toth

Apr 5, 2023

Shayla leaned forward in her chair, cracking her neck as the Word document loaded. The blank white page appeared, ready for words to be placed on it. She tapped her fingers on her keyboard without typing anything, hoping that inspiration would strike her at any moment. She glanced at the poster on her wall, the Thomas Edison one that said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.”

“Still waiting on that one percent,” she muttered, turning back to the judgmentally blank page, as clean and white as fresh fallen snow.

Shayla wasn’t sure what to write about, but she knew she wanted to write. She had just watched a bunch of writing videos on YouTube and she was feeling more motivated than she had been in months. She just had to . . . think . . . of something to . . . write about. . . .

What did she feel like writing about? Fantasy? Ooh, she could see that. A lush forest, violet-haired faeries, maybe a floating castle or two. Oh, airship pirates! She had to write about airship pirates this instant. She could already feel the wind in her hair, the chill of the mist against her skin as a fluffy cumulus cloud enveloped their ship. She could see the captain in her mind’s eye, a devilish and more than a little ostentatious mercenary with a fabulously feathered hat and a polar bear fur-trimmed coat. Maybe a monocle? Or fingerless gloves? This was an airship pirate captain, after all. And the port town! Should it be floating as well, or just high on a mountain? A floating city might be going a bit too far. Oh, what the heck. She would make up for it in fantastic detail, every alley and dangling shutter painted in vibrant colors and sparkling with countless facets. It would be beautiful, she already knew.

Three paragraphs later, she ran out of words for “clouds” and she was ready for a new idea. She was feeling a bit cyberpunk-y – but should she go dystopian or post-apocalyptic? Should she have a cyborg main character, or was that overdone? Oh, but she loved the idea of the flashing neon lights of the urban setting reflecting off a prosthetic limb. Or limbs? Why not go the whole hog and have an android character? That would be interesting. How would that translate into their – her, she decided on a whim – emotions? Her voice? Would she be very logical and analytical or should she subvert the trope? Would she try to understand the minds of her human friends or make her lack of interest clear? The better question is, would she have friends? Could she be some kind of mechanical outcast, on the fringes of society? That would make a great tragic backstory. Imagine, an android half destroyed and left in the junkyard by her creator, who tried to dispose of her after they realized how close to human their creation was. But she was found by some engineering amateur who repaired her with whatever scraps other people had thrown away. If she made him a love interest, would that be an unhealthy relationship that her future readers would pick at? Nightingale syndrome or whatever?

But as soon as she started typing, every idea for how to start it flew out of her head.

She tried, she really did. She started a few times, only to delete everything she had written and start again after a paragraph.

Maybe this was the wrong thing. Maybe she should write about something a little closer to home.

Write what you know, her thoughts mused.

She started typing.

It wasn’t any Great American Novel, and it wasn’t the next Lord of the Rings either. It was just a short story about something she knew very well: writer’s block.

But it was hers, and that was what mattered.

About the Author & Artist

Miriam’s love for writing began at the age of 8 years old! When she is not busy writing short stories, poetry, and novels, she also enjoys creating artwork. Featured are two of Miriam’s pieces. The sunrise is a digital art piece, and the self-portrait is a pencil and watercolor. We caught up with Miriam and here is what she had to say about her positive experience as a Knott Scholar:

“Meriting the Knott Scholarship gave me a lot more confidence to pursue leadership positions, such as secretary of student council as well as leadership positions outside of school. What’s more, it gave my peers and teachers the impression that I could handle such positions. The other day, no less than five of my classmates asked me to peer-edit their literary analysis, and I was delighted to help. I’d just like to say once again how grateful I am for the opportunities that have been given to me, especially the Knott Scholarship. It’s had a huge impact on my life and the lives of my family, considering the three kids my parents are trying to put through Catholic school.”

Miriam Toth - 'Self Portrait in Green' honor of Earth Day