Writer's Block


‘I’m going to get my pilot’s license and publish a book,’ Eloise said.

    I wanted to laugh out loud at this ridiculous statement but I remained composed and clapped politely with the others. We were at a Women’s Self Esteem seminar for seniors, declaring our personal goals. So far the other ladies had come up with a traditional wish-list of reasonable propositions.

    Eva said, ‘I want to bake the perfect sponge’.

    Beryl said, ‘I want to win the local show with the best home grown tomatoes’.

    Edith said, ‘I want to learn Russian for our overseas trip’.

    Violet said, ‘I am going to volunteer to help the disabled’.

    But Eloise had dropped a bombshell with her statement. And she cheated because she had two goals. And she had pinched mine. Bitch.

    The facilitator looked at me. ‘Martha, what is your personal goal?’

    ‘I want to publish a book.’

    ‘Oh, we have two budding authors in our group. I wonder who will be the first to fulfil their goal.’

    The other ladies tittered; they knew Eloise and I were arch rivals. We had competed against each other since the painting competition in prep, the hurdles final at little athletics and school captain at our ladies college. And bitch-face Eloise had won every time. She was a champion at everything and I had to settle for second best.

    But this latest rivalry was in a new category and I had a head start as I had been practising creative writing for six months at a night course. But I knew Eloise was as sneaky as a goanna stealing eggs from the chook house and she would find an underhanded method so she could beat me…again. 

    On the drive home I thought about how I could write a book. My writing teacher had told us a traditional novel was at least 90,000 words. That would take too long. I reckoned I could find 30,000 words to write a novella.

    I threw myself into the task and wrote for hours every day. I believed my characters were flourishing under my guidance and the story was developing nicely. I had written the first five chapters before I showed my teacher.

    A few days later she asked me to come around to her house. I thought the invitation was to congratulate me on my stellar effort, but I was devastated when I saw all the red pen and the teacher gave me a list as long as my nephew’s pet python of all the problems I needed to fix. Point of view was wrong, the characters were wooden, the dialogue unrealistic and the plot unbelievable. I abandoned my first manuscript and searched for fresh ideas for my next attempt.

     Weeks drifted into months and my novel was still elusive. I had made progress with developing my writing style but I still couldn’t crack the novel-writing caper. I wondered how Eloise’s writing was going.  I spied on her but couldn’t find any evidence she was working on a book but I did find out she was successful with her first personal goal. I read in the local paper she had her solo pilot license and was attempting to be the oldest pilot to cross Australia unassisted in a replica Tiger-Moth.

    She took off from our local aerodrome and it was the highlight of local gossip. A week into her trip the newspaper headlines screamed out she had gone missing in a remote area of Western Australia. She was lost and alone in the desert without an operational radio. 

    After two weeks without a trace I really was doubtful Eloise would be found alive. I couldn’t concentrate on writing, my novella had stalled again. It didn’t seem to matter now my arch rival was out of action.

    When I heard of her rescue I couldn’t help but feel emotional.  I was stunned at her resilience and I was compelled to read her story in the newspaper.  It was hailed as a triumph of the human spirit overcoming adversity. At the end of the newspaper report was one sentence in italics.

    Extreme Press will soon publish Eloise’s book featuring the entire story of her amazing survival. 


(c) Petra Szabo 2012 

Paper Aeroplane



© Petra Szabo 2012


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