If You’re Having Trouble Getting Started
by William Olmstead
Bern Vega walked through the front door of his tiny bungalow on Brook Street with the words of the writing class instructor resonating in his head: “If you’re having trouble getting started, it might be because you’re overwhelming yourself. Just sit down and write one sentence. No pressure.” It was an epiphany for Bern, who had spent his meager creative life writing in fits and starts.
He went downstairs to his old Smith-Corona typewriter, twisted in a sheet of paper, and wrote one sentence.
Juno Vega drove from his Uncle Bern’s funeral straight to the old man’s decrepit, moldy bungalow. He and his mother had started going through Bern’s things the night before, trying to figure out what to do with the old bachelor’s effects. In the basement they found a desk, a typewriter, and several yellowed, typewritten volumes of what appeared to be a novel. Or a memoir. Or something.
“Oh, my god. What’s all this?” his mother said. “I know Bern took some writing classes about thirty years ago, but I had no idea.”
Juno was fascinated. He brought up one of the dusty tomes and set it on a coffee table in the living room. He started to read.
Juno’s mother brought him a cup of coffee and they both sat down at her kitchen table.
“So, it looks like we have someone who might be interested in buying your Uncle Bern’s house,” she said.
“Oh, good. I’ve got almost everything cleaned out of there.” Juno blew on the hot coffee and took a sip. “Not only that, but I finally finished reading his book. Or whatever you want to call it. It’s taken me four months. There must have been a couple of thousand pages.”
“Really? How was it?”
“Well, here’s the weird thing. It was all one sentence.”
“What do you mean?”
“One sentence. The whole thing was one long, run-on sentence.”
Juno’s mother shook her head and waved a dismissive hand.
“What a waste. What can you really say in one sentence?”
This story was previously published in Narratives in Pill Form, the author’s collection of short stories.
William Olmstead is a Los Angeles-based writer. His stories have appeared in Café Irreal, Everyday Fiction, and Nomos Review. His first collection of fiction, Narratives in Pill Form, was recently published.