Inspirational Creative Nonfiction Adventure

Ian needed an entry point for his story. No portal, no story.

The sun shone through his window, creating a bright trapezoid on his floor. Dust drifted through the beam. The house was quiet.

All he needed was a simple dust mote on which his story’s beautiful snow flake could form. He could pick any one.

‘Always to the dust returning.’

Ian never called it ‘writer’s block.’ ‘That’s a faulty understanding of the problem.’ Ian felt he needed to find this story’s crystalizing agent. With enough research and life experience he could conjure a story on anything he chose. But he lacked that elusive entry point which allowed organic flow.

Some writers worked with their dreams. Ian rarely dreamed, and more rarely remembered them. He’d awaken in the night and write what came to him. Sometimes for hours. But without that seed crystal, he had nothing.

He dialed his phone.

“Hey, Mom…”


“Can you hear me?”

“You never call me.”

 “I just did. How are you?”

“Okay. Nothing to worry. I’ll get over it.”

“Mom, get over what?”

“Oh, you know… Life…”

“Let’s talk. I’ll pick you up. Let’s have dinner.”

“No, Honey… eating gives me gas. You’re busy. You go with your friends.”

“C’mon, Mom…”

“I have to go. My show is on.”

The line went dead. Ian felt his blood pressure surge. ‘It was ever thus…’

He could not measure their distance in miles. ‘Single steps…’

Ian imagined Cain visiting his mother, Eve.

“Surprise, Ma! Look what I brought you.” He held up an apple. “From my tree…”

She pushed him away.

“Yechh! I never touch those things. You know I’m allergic. Why do you pester me?”

Ian shook his head. Done to death. Need something more original. He would write that story, someday, but not now. Deadlines loomed. 

‘Experts say ‘begin at the beginning.’ Or, ‘start close to the end.’ No one knows.’    

Ian typed, ‘In the beginning…’ He shook his head. ‘Over used. Needs too much exposition. Endless backstory…’

He remembered some author said he hoped to write a story ‘so successful, he’d never need to write again.’

‘What fool would want that?’ Ian wondered. ‘The writer lives a multitude of lives. Never enough. Every story’s a rebirth, a new beginning. Reincarnation. Resurrection. Give me more!’

He dreaded ever needing to stop writing. Insatiable hunger gnawing, Ian sat at his keyboard. ‘Something. Anything…’ He typed for ten minutes, non-stop. He scanned the results and sighed. ‘Nothing… 100% unmitigated dreck.’

Ian pushed his chair back. Hemingway’s famous advice came to mind, ‘Write drunk, edit sober.’ Or was it, ‘Write drunk, edit hungover’? Ian doubted Hemingway ever said it. ‘Too wordy.

Either way, the sun was too high for that. Other needs drove his thirst.

The sunny trapezoid had shifted. He stood and moved to the window.

“With my words, I will create worlds. But the river has dried.” He said, “I lack input. Time to walk.”

‘Homer walked while composing his epics. His steps marking the cadence.’

No need to stress. He knew when Cleo, his wife came home, she’d help. He’d walk now and pick her brain over dinner. Cleo didn’t write stories. But her genius for inventing fertile phrases juiced his imagination. He cherished their partnership. He wrote for her.

Ian stepped into the world, shut the door and felt the breeze. Trees had blossomed. Flower petals fluttered like snow. Dogs walked their owners. The world breathed peace and harmony.

But as he walked, a turmoil of conflicting emotions and doubts flooded Ian’s mind.

‘To tell a story, a writer must invent conflict. Division is his meat. Don’t people’s lives have enough strife? Writing is a perverse, sick occupation. Time to get a real job.’

Ian cursed deadlines, though he knew they goaded production from lazy writers. He suspected he suffered burn out from the pressure. Perhaps lighten his punishing schedule. Socialize more. Writing is isolating and isolation fosters unease.

Ian saw himself as shy. But Cleo teased his habit of starting conversations with strangers in check-out lines. He’d always described his behavior as doggedly pursuing clues to human behavior. But relieving isolation could also explain it.

Stopping beneath a shade tree, he called Frank, co-worker at his part time job.

“Ian? What’s up? You on the clock?”

“No. Let’s get coffee.”

“I’m just heading out. Talk Monday. Lunch?”

Ian looked at the phone. The dial tone was loud and clear.

‘Great. Wonder what rumors that’ll generate.’

Walking by the grade school, Ian saw a hopscotch game scrawled onto the sidewalk. It sparked word associations. ‘In some neighborhoods, you’d expect hopscotch outside a tavern, not a school.’ He pondered. ‘Is hopscotch a drinking game alternating shots of whiskey and beer? Or mixing the two? Like cross training?’

He realized, even as a kid, he’d never played hopscotch. ‘Why not?’ He lobbed a pebble into the first frame, hopped, lost his balance and fell hard. Lying on the concrete Ian looked up at the greening trees.

‘No pain. Good… So that’s why only children play it. It’ll never be an Olympic event.’

A young woman came to him and helped him up. Her little girl and boy stood by, watching.

“Are you alright?”

Ian straightened and brushed dust from his clothing. “Of course. Nothing broken.” He felt defensive. “I’m not drunk, it’s the hopscotch. Thank you.” He sensed the children’s amusement. Almost shouting, he gestured at the chalked sidewalk. “Ought to be outlawed. Could kill someone.”

He kicked the stone. It ricocheted off a parked car’s tire.

Eyeing him as if he’d become unhinged, the woman pulled her children close. The girl giggled and hid her face.

Feeling the fool, Ian saw the situation had gone beyond redemption.

He nodded to the trio. “Thanks again.” Clutching at his tattered dignity, Ian walked stiffly away. He stretched to relieve the kink in his back.

He mumbled, “Chutes and Ladders is safer.”

‘Write drunk, edit stoned?’’

Ian continued on, trying to refocus. Down the block he spotted his old chess rival, Silas, walking his dog. They greeted each other as their distance closed.

“Haven’t seen you in forever.”

Ian stooped to pet the dog, whose tail whipped Silas’ legs. Silas stepped aside and smiled.

“Hey, Chump… You taking care of Sy?”

His friend said, “I’m good. Helping Terence, lately.”

“Your brother?” Silas nodded. “He finally get his parole?”

“Yeah, but the conditions… restitution’s steep. He’d a done better staying in.”

Ian winced. “He need work?”

Silas nodded. “Yeah, but lost his license. And day labor barely pays the bills. Need to beat you at chess. Win enough to help him out.”

“Dream on, buddy. Not likely.”

They laughed. 

Silas shook his head. “I’ll never make that mistake again…”

“King to a-1?”

“That’s it...”

They smiled at the memory of Ian’s great upset over Silas a year ago.

Silas said, “You know, I never said anything... But those detectives... The evidence told them exactly how to find him.”


Silas said, “Then it’s, directly to jail. Do not pass go.”

Something clicked for Ian. He gave his friend a look and petted Chump. He turned to go with a casual wave.

“Catch you later, Sy. I gotta go.”

“Where to?”

“Where else? Back to square one.”

Ian walked with purpose. His dust mote found, he had a crystal to grow.

April 19, 2023 22:46

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Michał Przywara
20:50 Apr 27, 2023

Heh, a very relatable take on the prompt :) No doubt many here will agree. I particularly liked the "trying on" of ideas, seeing where they go, and discarding them in large numbers. Interviewing the "what ifs". All too familiar. Stylistically, weaving action with fragments of ideas and old sayings works well to establish the feeling. "The writer lives a multitude of lives. Never enough. Every story’s a rebirth, a new beginning. Reincarnation. Resurrection. Give me more!" :) "Writing is a perverse, sick occupation." Also true :) And o...


John K Adams
22:45 Apr 27, 2023

Thanks, Michal, for the extended discussion of my story. It is always valuable to get comments. This prompt spoke to me directly. Amazing how a simple prompt can generate such wide-ranging responses. I look forward to reading more of your work.


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Darya Silman
04:59 Apr 24, 2023

You turned a writer's block into a story. That's a smart way to overcome a writer's block :)


John K Adams
17:58 Apr 24, 2023

Thank you, Darya, for reading and commenting. Let's keep that a secret between us, okay?


Darya Silman
18:00 Apr 24, 2023

I have my ways, so your secret will stay with me :)


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Delbert Griffith
13:31 Apr 21, 2023

Wow, John. Great story! I have to admit to being there many times. And all of the observations about writing hit home hard. It all worked, my friend. Everything. The dust mote and the crystal. Everything. A marvelous piece, and written by someone who knows how to write. Splendid work, my friend. Simply splendid. Cheers!


John K Adams
14:04 Apr 21, 2023

Thanks, Delbert. Between you and me, this was almost a diary of my trying to come up with an idea. I hoped it would resonate with the writers who see it. I always appreciate your comments and your reading. Cheers!


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Juliet. B.
18:08 Apr 21, 2023

Wow, Mr. Adams. Writer's block. We've all been there at least once. I love this story! I love all the details and the descriptions in the little details. I loved it!


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