“It’s quiet, I get to concentrate.” I feel the need to explain myself to the librarian, because no one comes here anymore. He answers me with a soft smile and returns to his seat to do, well, whatever it is that librarians do these days.
I have the wifi password on a slip of paper in one hand and my laptop in the other. I’ve come here to write. There is just too much stuff in my study, and too many people talking about the novels they are writing in the coffee bar. I just need to write, not be distracted, not talk about writing, but write.
The shelves are all scattered at odd angles, labelled with little laminated signs taped onto the melamine. I wonder through geology and ancient history looking for a desk. There are some visible through the gaps in the books, but when I turn corners there is nothing there but another row of shelves. Looking back I can’t see the librarian’s counter anymore, and when I turn again there is a single plastic seat and a small metre square desk in front of me.
The rows of books are clearly doing my head in, but since there is a power socket and a vending machine nearby I decide not to pass up the chance for some quiet writing time.
I haven’t been to the library for years. We used to hang out there all the time as kids, pretending to study, and spending time being young and carefree in the neighbouring graveyard. Then age happened, and the internet and ebooks. When the kids were born the shadowed coolness and silence of the library suddenly became very attractive.
I settle into the hard plastic, slipping a little until I learn the right way to place my feet on the parquet floor. This isn’t the welcoming cushion of my study chair, just the durable function of an L shape on legs.
Ten minutes later and I’ve been staring at the screen and not written a word. It is as though the silence has sucked language out of me, and there is nothing left to be said. The scrape of the chair as I stand echoes in the stillness.
My heels tap as I wander over to the vending machine. There are little cardboard squares in the spirals, with an alpha numeric code and a description. I have to read them twice over before I realise what they say.
I take a step back. In neat Times New Roman there is inscribed across the top “InspiroVend”, and what it seems to sell is inspiration. The little cards are labelled: “plot twists”, “character outlines”, “locations”, “tropes”, “haiku” and so on in a dizzying array.
I can’t resist, but there doesn’t seem to be a keypad to make a choice, or a coin slot to pay, just a slight depression the size of a bottle top. I push my thumb into it to see if there is a flip out panel, and then snatch it back. There is a small ball of blood on my thumb, and a needle sliding back into the machine. Instinctively I put my thumb in my mouth to stop the bleeding, and the machine grinds into life.
A card drops into the slot below the viewing pane. I pick it up with one hand and twist it open. There are a couple of lines from a poem inside:
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
I stare at it, smoothing back the thin card with both hands. A little smear of blood marks the stark white card.
I know this mood, I know this moment, I hold it very very gently. I’m back at the laptop and the keys begin to tap.
When I leave, that indeterminate amount of time later, when the words have finally run out, and the enervation of coming off a writing high kicks in, I pass the librarian at the counter still doing his unfathomable thing.
“I hope you found what you were looking for,” he says quietly.
Photo lifted from BrokenBarnet.Blogspot.com until I can get over there to shoot one of my own.
The full text of the gorgeous poem by Stacie Cassarino can be found here
Links to my books are available from my Amazon author page, they are also sold by other reputable bookstores. Please read, rate and review.
11 thoughts on “Inspirovend”
Photo… You could’ve nicked one of mine 😉 Absolutely enthralling piece of writing. So much n Finchley invites stories and poetry. Look forward to reading more 🙂
I had a flip through your pics but didn’t alight on one of church end library, if you can guide me to the right place I will happily replace it. 🙂
Sorry Ali – Wrong end of the stick… You haven’t nicked one of mine so nothing to replace 🙂 I was just enjoying your post and thinking how close you were!
Haha, layers of confusion, I was inviting you to guide me to a picture of yours so I could use it in place of this one!
I can offer you a shot from outside the church, https://www.flickr.com/photos/martin_addison/3634369149/in/set-72157608127339136, and I know I’ve photted the Library before but maybe never published it… Are you local Ali ? How about a coffee sometime?
West Finchley these days, and sure coffee sounds great, just give me a month to get through Ramadan or I’ll just sit there watching morosely
Happy with the need to respect Ramadan 🙂 Ping me on a post when you’re ok 🙂
This reminds me of when people were getting infected with aids from little needles left in odd places, with a note saying, ”you now have aids.” Strange.
It is strange what readers pick up on. While writing this I skipped quickly past the infection angle, because what was on my mind was the trade – give a little blood, get a little inspiration, and specifically something that could not be bought with money.
In a future re-write I will have to deal with that, because it has the potential to take the narrative down a new and potentially very interesting arc (a spiral of addiction perhaps). I’ll play with that – thank you for pointing it out.
In an unrelated thread on fbook a friend of mine posted up the NY Times article from 33years ago today that first reported on the identification of a “new form of cancer”.
You’re welcome, glad to help out another blogger. Did I understand you correctly, this post is a page from a book you wrote and are now trying to sell?
Not quite, the books are already published (although as noted in a prior post I have given away more than I have sold). What you see on the blog is either just for the joy of writing, or snippets of future projects, triggered by prompts, that are a long way from completion. My whip handed editor keeps pressing me to finish those projects…