The HouseGuest

The HouseGuest

A writers letter to the houseguest who refuses to leave of the own volition, and who now threatens their hosts ability to pen single sentence.


Flash fiction


Melissa Strimback (United States)

To My Dearest House Guest,

You have now become an unwanted visitor and the time has come for you to leave. I’m sorry. That was abrupt and on the verge of rude, though I’m confident you’re no stranger to such things. Please, let me elaborate.

I am a writer. It’s my job. No. Scratch that. It’s my lively hood. I need to write like I need to eat. Your visit has reminded me (as all writers are on occasion) that writers block sucks. Pardon the colloquialism. Compare it, if you will, to being on the precipice of a hunger collapse while at work only then to realize you forgot your lunch at home. Then, after reaching your shaky-low-blood-sugar-hand into your wallet you see nothing more than a five dollar bill. Five big ones that you now remember, in your dizzy stupor, is earmarked to put gas in the car to get you back home. Perhaps there’s a co-worker willing to share the croutons from their salad? Yes. That’s possible. In our case though, I’m confident you would not be that person.

Upon your initial arrival I simply accepted you being here. After all, it’s not unlike you to pop by on a moments notice. Over the years I’ve learned to expect it. But, you have extended your stay longer than I originally anticipated. I’ve tried to be patient. I’ve tried to work through our incompatibilities. As impolite as I genuinely intend this to sound; you’re now the visitor I want to throw out. Sorry. Again, rude. Though in my defense, considering how long we’ve know each other, you should know how blunt I can be when I’m at my wits end.

As a writer I expect, even accept, the inevitability of writers block. It’s a part of the job. Highs and lows are a part of life. Teachers shouldn’t expect every student to be an angel. A garbage man shouldn’t expect his job smell like daises. Side effects and circumstances of each profession. Accept them and keep moving forward. The problem however, is this particular low, my lack of intelligible words, is lasting far too long. I’m drowning in sheets of blank paper.

I said earlier, bouts of writers block leave writers hungry. We want so badly to sink our teeth into a juicy idea, chew on it and let it simmer until it’s perfect. We can’t though, we’ve been muzzled. Have you taken notice of how I’ve been coping lately? I’ve excuse myself into other peoples stories using the rationalization “it will spark something.” I wholeheartedly admit, sometimes it’s inspirational or relaxing to get lost in a good book. But now, I’ve crossed the jealousy line and am tiptoeing a sea of fury that I’m not writing the things I’m reading!

There were moments of hope. Last night, while I was reading (and you were prancing around my office) there was a spark. For a brief moment I forgot you were even there. You were sidelined by a brilliantly worded opening line. Do you remember what happened? You creeped your head silently over my shoulder to see what I would write. I swear I could hear you breathing in my ear, and down my neck. Then, after expelling the line from my brain and to the paper, you whispered in that tone, “Hmm. Is that it? What supposed to happen next?” In my fit of happiness to finally write something I opted to ignore and smile. But then when I tried to answer what happens next, even in my own mind, I couldn’t. Thus, my pencil was returned to its home. A miraculous burst of flame after swiping the flint of a match only to discover the rest of the wood is wet. My heart and lungs deflated. Again.

While my imagination does run away with me on occasion I confident I heard a satisfied smile spread over your face. After all, if I’m not writing my attention belongs to my houseguest. It was this moment I could hear the silent and dreaded question - am I good enough to be a writer? That question feels silly, and self-defeating, of me to say. Or write, for that matter. Especially considering my belief that an author should be able to write through the moments that lack immediate inspiration. Inevitably I was left asking myself; does this mean I’m not a writer? By my own definition of an authors capabilities the answer sounded like a resounding - No, I’m not a writer.

So then, why do I keep trying? At the moment, I definitely don’t feel inspired by anything. But a writer is what I want to be. So, I will not give up. This morning I decided I needed to approach my starvation from a different angle. I made the decision to rid myself of the unwanted distractions and unnecessary self-doubt.

I am not ok with barely scraping out one sentence a day or turning myself into the green eyed monster towards fellow writers. The time has come for you to leave. I cannot say it, or write it, in a nicer way. So, until we meet again (I know you can’t stay away forever). Goodbye my own personal writers-block-little-devil. Your visit has reached its end.

Without love,
From the author you visit too often

P.S. I’ve taken the liberty of packing your bags for you. Don’t worry, it took me no time at all.

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1



The reviews for this submission haven't been published yet.