Andrew reached across the workbench and took the axe down from where it hung on the pegboard. He peeled the protective sleeve off its head and regarded the blade, took in how the light glinted on the steel.
This would make a great story.
Except…
He had nowhere to write. He didn’t have a place to call his own, in which to summon the muse. He knew she was there, waiting to descend upon him with the inspiration and the words he craved, but it wasn’t going to happen at a place as mundane and distraction-filled as the kitchen table, was it?


All of the writers he admired and loved showed off their spaces online. Lofts, summer houses, cabins, converted wagons. Some simply used a spare bedroom. But he didn’t even have that. All of the rooms in his three bedroom semi were occupied. The kids each had their own, where they were camped out as good as twenty-four-seven, simultaneously glued to their beds and their iPhones. Katrina had all but commandeered theirs, transforming it into a handbag and shoe exhibit she seemed to be curating in every waking minute, pausing only to fix him a murderous look and tell him to leave whenever he entered with the intention of doing anything other than sleeping.
There was the living room, which no one entered, but it was cold and dead unless the television was switched on. And even muted, with the intention of the thing just injecting some life and colour into the space, it wasn’t long before the laptop was slipped to one side on the couch and Netflix cast its spell.
Andrew didn’t have the land or the budget to build a summer house, but there was enough room between the fence at the rear of the back garden and the old shed, to buy a new one.
Katrina thought it would look ridiculous, especially to the neighbours who could see directly into the garden, to have two identical wooden sheds side by side, but that’s exactly what he did.
Andrew spent every weekend that summer insulating it and installing wall coverings and flooring, so that it looked the closest thing to an actual room. He ran power from the freezer outlet in the shed next door through into the new one and got himself a snazzy desk and chair from IKEA. He had been romancing about doing this for too long and now it had come true. He found the wi-fi signal from the living room reached his laptop in The Lair, as he christened it, no problem.
He was all set.
No excuses now.
Except…
All of those writers he respected and admired? None of them were using something as basic and limited as old Microsoft crappy Word to knock out their masterpieces. They were all advocates of Scrivener.
Katrina didn’t mind spending all her money on handbags she would never use, but she thought Andrew had spent more of their cash than was sensible already on his “serial killer” shed. And as she went through the credit card and bank statements like a CSI every month, he would have to bide his time until he could shell out for software.
So he waited, gave it a couple of wordless, chapterless, storyless months and made the purchase.
He was all set.
No excuses now.
Except…
Andrew didn’t just want to jump in feet first and plod into the program in the most inefficient way, making mistakes left, right and centre. He wanted to hit the ground running, get the most he could out of the software. He knew what he had to do. Hit YouTube. And watch every tutorial on it he could.
So he did.
He hadn’t so much as written the words “Chapter One” with the program yet, but he knew the thing inside out, more than any of the writers who continuously waxed lyrical about it. Scrivener and its brilliance, however, was not all they talked at length about.
One tutorial led to a Pandora’s Box of others on how to outline, structure, create character arcs and story arcs, self-edit, and so on and so on. And all of it was gold. Andrew could not possibly waste a single word, a single keystroke without absorbing all of it. In every blog, vlog or podcast they would make reference to some excerpt or quote from some seminal book on the subject and he would promptly order it, wallpapering The Lair with post-its containing harvested quotes of his own. The weeks turned into months and soon Andrew found himself knowing what one of these guys was going to say before they said it, because they were all starting to sound the same, saying the same things, reading from the same script, one he now knew off by heart.
He knew more than they did.
He was all set.
No excuses now.
Except…
Work had gotten crazy. He had been able to squeeze in the odd writing spell between assignments, during every lunch, and a half hour again at his desk before leaving in the evening. But a promotion a couple of months ago had seen his workload mushroom. There was no time between assignments and he was finding himself pulled into meetings most lunchtimes, as well as working late at his desk just to play catch-up in the evenings. When he got home at night, it was all he could do to keep his eyes open after dinner, never mind focus them on another computer screen and try tap out a thousand words. And as for the weekends, when the kids didn’t need ferrying to matches, friends’ houses or club meets, when Katrina didn’t need chauffeuring to another designer outlet or shopping mall, he was bringing that work home with him.
There was simply no time to write.
Until the agency’s New York office lost the worldwide account that was propping his branch’s balance sheets up. Until the only sensible thing to do was start cutting overhead, beginning with him and several others.
Now Andrew was at home with a fat wad of gardening leave and a decent chunk of severance in his back pocket.
With nothing but time to write.
He was all set.
No excuses now.
Except…
Shit.
There was no except.
He got up out of his chair and exited The Lair, turning immediately to the right and letting himself into the shed. Andrew reached across the workbench and took the axe down from where it hung on the pegboard. He peeled the protective sleeve off its head and regarded the blade, took in how the light glinted on the steel. He tested its weight. Not too heavy. Light enough to be wielded singlehandedly in fact.
Perfect.
He laid his right arm, the one his dominant hand was on the end of, down on the workbench and raised the axe over his head, bringing it down without hesitation, with all he could muster, on a spot midway between his wrist and his elbow, not bothering to even pull up his sleeve.
He was all set.
No excuses now.
Except…

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