Hey, I’m Viv. Thanks, Delilah, for letting me come in here and couch-surf in your pretty online space. I write sexy sci-fi romance and just recently started working on a new book and thought, hey, this nascent end of the book-writing process might be interesting to some people. Maybe? Hopefully.
The Dreaded Blank Doc of Oh No You Can’t
A Love Story
It’s just a straight line, blinking in a backlit sea of white. It doesn’t speak, doesn’t laugh, doesn’t even present a memeable visual. Yet it mocks me.
“Hello, cursor at the head of a brand new book,” I say brightly.
“Hey, now, that wasn’t necessary. We’re pals. I mean, aren’t we? After last year, we ought to be.”
We wrote two full-length books* together in 2016, this computer and I, and we revised another.** I stroked these keys, teased magic from them, warmed them with the friction of creation and the ballsy lack of a cooling fan.
“What sort of answer is that? Can we at least talk this out? I kind of thought we had something, you know, special.”
White is not a pretty color. An artist pal insists that in an additive situation like a computer screen, white is the presence of all colors. When it disguises itself as a story, trust me, white is the absence of all hope.
“Okay, fine, yeah, I might’ve ghosted or mumble-mumble-didn’twriteformonths-mumble. My bad. But! I never stopped thinking about you. Swear. Check out this notebook full of research nibblets and theme notes and character descriptions and story beats. I effing dreamed about you.” Whew. Just managed to hold back the expletive there.
If you’d asked before today, I would have sworn a blinking cursor could not look patently disbelieving or just a little bit pissed.
It gives the minutest of pauses before the next blink. Sarcastic little turd.
“Look, I’m okay with a reboot on this relationship. How about… I dunno, a hundred words today? They don’t even have to be good words. Just a start. What say?”
I don’t wait for an answer, just type***.
Nina struggled to give each a proper space in memory, but all the thousands of worlds blurred together. On one, a red-dust surface and giants who exhaled fire. On another, twelve-legged mothers beneath a canopy of blue leaves, stringing cradles for their newborns and slinging poison to the hunters who came for them in the longest night. A moon of blood-veined ice and people who sang to stars, hoping for rescue and receiving annihilation.
Blindly, apologetically, with a backbeat of I-missed-you and a promise of it-will-get-better. Just hang in there with me.
Failures. Every world she’d visited had been a failure, and she’d watched trillions suffer punishment for their sins.
Cradles, falling. Giants, weeping. Hunters in the dark.
The blinks come faster now, as if the document pants, strung taut and ready for the next word. I long to make it breathless, unable to stand even a moment disconnected from my hot little fingers, and suddenly I’m swimming in hope.
This is what it’s like to start a new book. This is how it feels. At least, for me.
And I love it so hard.
* One of those books is Perfect Gravity, available November 7, 2017 and pre-orderable now.
** Wanted and Wired, a sexy cyberpunk action story with lots of kissing (actually available).
*** Complete typing vomit, first-draft nonsense not even read by my critique partners. (Hi, you guys. This will be coming at you soon. Promise.)