The Spot Writers – “Enter the Void” by Tom Robson

Welcome to the Spot Writers’ weekly flash fiction post. This month’s prompt is “into the void.” Today’s post comes from Tom Robson. Check out his book, Written While I Still Remember.

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***

Enter the Void

Autumn, 1947.

Blank pages exposed for the English Composition class.

Words to be inked onto that empty-page void

Which matched my eleven year old, Monday morning mind.

My empty imagination is not stimulated by suggested titles,

Six to choose from chalked, uninspirationally, on the blackboard.

 

They are not an invitation to fill the void.

It is a demand that, armed with pen and ink,

On a subject not of our choosing,

I will enter the void and produce a finished story.

 

It will be

Grammatically correct.

No misspellings.

Scripted in unblotched penmanship.

Punctuated.

Sequential.

Perhaps even interesting.

And it will be completed in one hour.

 

On Friday, our evaluated essays will be returned.

Decorations in teachers’ red, pinpoint the many errors,

Offer a destructively, critical comment

And an arbitrary letter grade.

The only rewrite will be six corrected repetitions of each misspelled word.

 

And on every Monday morning,

Period one,

Through this school year,

We will confront the void again.

 

Winter 1967.

Official, legal, confidential assessment reports,

To be perused by so many people.

Three for me to draft this week.

Court ordered, during the appointed stay

Of the newly sentenced delinquent boys,

At the Classifying Approved school.

 

Deadline. The Monday morning meeting.

My findings will be presented

And a treatment plan prepared, by committee.

 

The already thick file that came with each boy,

Provides some material to fill the void.

On my blank sheets I must  compose a history

And a plan which will  suggest a conformist future.

 

Drawing from –

School reports,

Court documents,

Probation reports,

Psychological reports,

Pre-sentence reports,

Social workers’ home visits,

Delinquent history,

A personal interview  – and

Observations made during each boy’s three week stay.

 

Lined pages of foolscap paper are the void

To be filled with accurate information,

Grammatically correct,

Legibly ballpoint penned,

Error free,

Accurately punctuated,

Consistent and objective,

Following an ascribed pattern

So supervisor’s editing will be minimal

And  – most important –

The ladies in the typing pool will not complain at the quality of my prose.

 

The considered words of this draft,

Filling the void on the foolscap,

Must also fill the  void in knowledge

Of those, elsewhere,

Given the responsibility for the reform

Of the still unknown-to-them boy,

During his three years sentence for residential treatment.

The report will give the treaters awareness.

If they choose to read it.

 

Summer 2016.

There is no void until I create one.

Now, if I choose to write, I determine

What I write,

How I write,

When I write

What form or style the writing will take,

Whether to set myself a deadline,

Whether to share the writing that will fill my blank screen void.

Whether to even finish what I start.

 

Some writing is to be shared.

I may ask for feedback or criticism.

I may be self satisfied with what I’ve written to fill my void.

I may try to publish.

I may choose to consign this work to the depths of my computer’s memory.

And, if expedient, this will not be the first void-filling-prose or poetry

Whose fate is best served by pressure on the ‘delete’ button.

 

Why? Because my writer’s void,

Whether it be a suggested challenge

Or just blank space to be filled,

Is created in the mind of the writer;

A creator who can choose whether to

Enter the Void.

Or look elsewhere for one that’s more inviting.

One where content is the priority.

Because the mechanics of the written words

Can always be made to work better

Later in the process.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

RC Bonitz: http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Tom Robson: https://robsonswritings.wordpress.com

***

Have you read The Spot Writers’ first book? Check out the just-released Remy’s Choice, a novella based on a story we wrote a while back. It’s available at Amazon  for only $1.99 e-book and $5.99 print.  Remy, just out of a relationship gone wrong, meets handsome Jeremy, the boy next door. Jeremy exudes an air of mystery, and he seems to be everything she’s looking for. While Remy allows herself to indulge in the idea of love at first site, she realizes she’s the girl next door according to her boss, Dr. Samuel Kendrick.

 

Young lonely woman on bench in park

 

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