The Journey Often Left Untold

*Short story competition entry for "24 hour" writing challenge (journey theme)* Trent is a writer. And as anyone who writes knows, the creative journey is often a windy, rocky road. Stuck on a deadline, sensational teen author Trent has self-diagnosed himself with an incurable case of 'writer's block'. Or rather, 'oh-my-god-this-sucks-so-hard' syndrome. But with impatient editors nipping at his heels for his latest work, Trent takes on a fictional road trip with his favourite characters to rediscover why he writes - and why he once adored his current project so much - in the hope of avoiding the chomping jaws of losing the craft he loves. A tale of self-rediscovery, Gossip Girl and possibly bad lasagne.


1. The Journey Often Left Untold - Part 1

    It all started with a vanilla, soya double shot latte on just-frozen ice.

    And, yes, the double shot part is important.

    For if Trent Samuels hadn't ordered a double shot, then he would have been waiting in Starbucks at his table for ten minutes - TEN MINUTES?!! - longer whilst the barista (who had messed up his order twice already) re-did it. And if he hadn't have waited there ten minutes longer, the string bean-lookalike of a man, with his wiry, grey beard and fedora, wouldn't have come up to him - or complimented him on his manuscript (Trent liked to read his work-in-progress novels aloud). And if the string bean-man hadn't come up to him, then he wouldn't have had known he was a literary agent. Or had his worked passed onto a Big 5 publisher, landed a major book deal, and had the movie rights acquired by Sony.

    And, if none of that had happened, then he wouldn't be where he was right now.

    Trent Samuels. Teen author sensation and extraordinaire.

    Sitting on his couch, at three pm on a Sunday afternoon, consuming just as many episodes of Gossip Girl as tubs of Ben and Jerry's.

    So, really, he had the double shot to thank. Or maybe curse.

    As Trent watched Blair Waldorf re-adjust her headband for the millionth time, he sighed. In situations like these, he couldn't help looking back on his past recent success, hoping some scrap of luck - or talent - from that time would rub off on him. After that first book, the publisher had signed him on for a six-book fantasy series. "A YA revelation!" according to Entertainment Weekly. "A thrill ride so hard and fast you'll crap your pants!" according to Buzzfeed. "Books" according to the snotty Forbes magazine journalist. But whilst five out of Trent's six babies were out in the world, alive and kicking - and inspiring some seriously talented fanart - the final sextuplet had yet to emerge.

    And it was all his fault.

    Some called it 'writer's block'. Others called it an 'inspiration slump'. But, presently, Trent liked to shift the blame and think of it as Blake Lively proving to be a very unstimulating muse.

    He knew that the end of the series should have been easy to write. Heck, at one point he had known the ending before he knew the beginning. But somewhere along the way, his protagonist - a bisexual, one-legged, whisky-drinking pirate named Chip - had gone off in his own direction. Leaving Trent to simply follow, fall and then wallow in self-pity in his wake.

    The idea of an orphaned sea-scallywag being a secret prince, destined to restore his kingdom by finding a holy goblet, wasn't anything breathtakingly new. It played on a lot of the overseen tropes. The Chosen One. A love triangle. The comedic sidekick of a best friend. But people had praised Trent's social inclusion of readers from all walks of life - different races, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc.

    And, he had to admit, for the last two books that had carried the story along.

    But coming to the end of Chip's journey meant that Trent had to find a way for him to go out with a BANG, not a whimper.

    A skill he had yet to master. Especially with the corporate monkeys jumping on his back about pushing the release date forward.

    As Trent watched pre-eyeliner Taylor Momsen gushing over Cotillion dresses, he finally made a decision. He would have to go to the publishers and tell them that he was giving up. After all, it wasn't like he hadn't tried. He had researched 'planning vs. pantsing' methods. He had visited online community forums, workshops, and even his therapist. But nothing was working.

    And part of him wasn't sure if he wanted it to.

    For the last few years, the success of his series had made it all about the money, money, money. He didn't even feel like he knew his story or his characters on an intimate basis anymore. Whereas once he was being slapped in the face by plot twist ideas, now he was dredging them up from shows his little sister binged on Netflix (sorry, GG and co.). Whereas once he had had characters whispering their secrets in his ear, now they simply muttering unnervingly amongst themselves.

    Trent was done. Just done.

    All that was left now was to commit career suicide.

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