An audio version is > here. <
The gears are old and bright red flakes of rust peel away from the machine. A quick hard tap on the gear works with an old steel pole from a forgotten chain link fence rings out loud and clear in the gray dawn sky. It’ll work. It might leak oil and send out voluminous, rolling plumes of greasy, ash-black smog , the gears might moan like an old tug ‘s tires rubbing against the pilings of the dock that no one uses anymore, but fire that engine up, and words will appear, one at a time. Maybe they’ll come in fits and starts as the machine wheezes and groans, stutters and coughs, but the words will come. As they almost always have.
Except that one time when you were outside the machine, of course.
But the engine will roar to life at some point, and the gears will sing, and the words will come in great splashing gouts and in the fine, ocean-misted spray of words flying across the pages, you will see glimpsed reflections of the characters and worlds that until that moment when you set the words on the page, only lived in your head.
Yes, it would help if the machine was easier to operate, or if there was a better operator at the controls, say an Atwood, a Lee, a Walker, a Bradbury, or even a Zelazny. For you the machine acts like a churlish cranky toddler, and you are so out of your depth with the contraption. Yet, it is yours, and so, you plug away at it, hoping that strip mining the plains of your mental Pangaea will give you something to appease the pressure in your head that takes shape as vengeful gods of dread and unpaid bills and eviction notices.
All the while you try to dig up the real, instinctual reason you’re doing this, like extracting a bloody rotted tooth that won’t come free just yet. But you have to pound away at the machine, willing the muses to appear, and even if you bruise your fingertips and your ego, you need to write, because that’s what writing is, sometimes.