Saturday, October 18, 2008

Foolish mortals!

This is a story about the time I challenged the gods. It happened only a few years ago. You should have been there. But then I wouldn't have to tell you about it, would I?

At that time I had almost finished writing the great Scandinavian novel. It was a work of deep insight, told in terse, polished prose. Maybe incisive is a better word for it, or succinct. But most of all it was concise, I would say, in its terseness.

It opened with the words: "I don't know why you insist on calling me Stinky Lizardfoot, when you know full well my name is Ishmael". A refreshing outside view of Scandinavian society, it was the story of a family of modern gypsies, Lithuanian migrant workers who travel around the Nordic countries in a camper van and surmount all kinds of obstacles. The father, a cashiered policeman, is the central character, with the oldest daughter delivering many of the subplots. My working title was Through the Gateway to the Fjords and Beyond.

At the point of third act resolution we find the family of seven fleeing the burning wreck of their camper van through a Swedish forest in midwinter, pursued by a mob of locals who have become enraged by a news story of a home invasion-turned-murder, committed by a completely unrelated group of Lithuanian migrants, in another part of the country.

All I needed was an ending and a better title. But then what happened, I had the flu for three weeks, and afterwards I went through a period of depression and severe writer's block. It came to a point where I would sit by the typewriter for hours, whole days even, chewing my baconless spaghetti carbonara and grimly humming the theme to Dick Turpin.

It could not continue. One morning, sickened by the seemingly growing pile of blank papers, I made a pact with myself. I took the 327 bus out to the country and climbed a small hill in the middle of a field, no doubt some forgotten bronze age chieftain's tomb. I sat there with my typewriter, resolved to stay in the same spot until I'd finished the work. I sat there for hours and nothing happened.

In my despair I swung my fists at the heavens then. I cursed the gods of writing, specifically Brage, norse god of minstrels, calling him a cuckold and a bit of an asshole.

It was then that it happened. The heavens opened and a thunderbolt pierced the sky. There was a deafening roar and all went black. That's the last thing I remember, first a roar, and then the blackness. Or maybe the blackness came first and then there was a roar in the blackness. It's hard to tell, because the two were almost completely simultaneous.

I awoke at the foot of the hill, dazed, stupefied, bewildered and also confused, with soot on my hands and face, my (quite expensive) windbreaker in tatters. At the top of the hill was a scorched hollow the depth of a cast iron bathtub, and typewriter parts lay scattered about in a perfect circle.

The 786 pages of my novel were burned to ashes. Sadly it was the only copy. To my surprise I found the 400g can of skinned tomatoes I'd brought along for provisions miraculously untouched, but I later discovered the contents had acquired an unusually bland taste, undoubtedly as a direct result of the thunderbolt.


Blogger Mikkel said...

Funny thing: I had my PC in for repairs, and the guy told me the hard drive has been wiped clean by lightning!!!


7:23 pm  

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