For months now, I’ve fought a fierce, protracted battle with a long-time antagonist: Writer’s Block. For me, it’s much like trying to catch a mouse. My creativity hides in the walls, and only on occasion, I’ll catch a glimpse, until its fickleness threatens to drive me mad. Then I hurry up and wait, baiting a succession of gimmicky traps until ultimately it emerges of its own accord.
That is until now!
Now I have proof that something more nefarious is afoot. I’ve discovered a secret to help me defeat my venerable adversary: my writer’s block isn’t an inside job—I’m really fighting an external foe. My creative ideas are being stolen. I still haven’t figured out how, but I think I’ve found the culprit.
A few months ago an idea started to roll around in the dark recesses of my consciousness. I’ve devoted a respectable amount of time trying to smooth out the idea into an essay, and more recently a story—long enough, at any rate, for me to consider it my idea. As of two weeks ago the opening goes something like this:
“Hobos and wanderers have a secret language. Markings left on buildings, trains, and bridges let others know where to find clean water, a soft-hearted restaurateur, a safe-place to sleep, or warns of zealous police officers. It is a fairly complex written language, able to provide detailed directions and timetables.
Compared to dogs they are amateurs. That’s the only explanation I have for the stream of canines that abandon themselves at our feet and doorstep each year. I’m positive that written in scent around our neighborhood is the message Sucker for Small Dogs.”
But today at lunch, purely by circumstance, I stumbled across the wicked plot that has foiled me all these years. Quite innocently I picked up a collection of short stories—which I purchased not more than a week ago—and came across this passage:
“Tramps and vagabonds have marks they make on gateposts and trees and doors, letting others of their own kind know a little about the people who live at the houses and farms they pass on their travels. I think cats must leave similar signs; how else to explain the cats who turn up at our door through the year, hungry and flea-ridden and abandoned?”
—Neil Gaiman, “The Price,” Smoke and Mirrors.
Thief. Traitor. How could he? One of my favorite authors no less. I still haven’t been able to figure out how he stole my idea. Nor have I worked out the sticky, time-travel details necessary to publish my stolen idea years before I had it. But he is a science fiction author; if anyone can handle the logistics of a plan like that, he can. I can see now, how he is such a successful and imaginative writer. He’s likely been stealing ideas all over the globe for years. I’m sure his most recent novel is being dreamed up by a precocious little Finnish girl three years from now.
Now the problem becomes clear. How can I stop this villain? How can I stop this drain and keep my ideas, putting them in my own journal where they belong? How can I save frustrated writers everywhere from the fate of seeing their own words in print?
Wait. . . maybe it’s not all bad. At least I know I’m publishable. Not only that, but I’m just now getting an idea for a story. . . a boy who discovers that his inability to write is caused by a villainous millionaire growing even richer by stealing other’s ideas.
I have to go now. . . it’s time to bait a trap.