“Punch the keys or your words mean nothing! Punch them, dammit!”
He pressed the laptop keyboard with force.
“No good! Get her a proper typewriter!”
The assistants scurried off immediately. When you had a Nobel Prize winner in your midst, you obeyed. Especially when it was the first time – and last, it would later transpire –he had agreed on a public lecture on the art of writing.
The student he’d handpicked from the audience was stranded in limbo on the podium with him now, in front of a 2,000 strong audience. She sat in fear and the writer did nothing to comfort her.
He had won his Nobel Prize for sensitive poetry, but none of this was apparent in his lecture so far. He had been rude, cantankerous, ill at ease. His view on the state of modern writing had been scarcely less malicious, as he seemed hell-bent on settling feuds with his contemporaries. It had made the audience restless: where you could hear a pin drop at the start of the lecture, now whispers filled the room.
There the assistant finally arrived with a typewriter from the fifties.
“Punch!” the writer ordered.
Forty-two clicks later the student stopped. The writer pulled the paper from the typewriter. He did not look at the ink, but turned the page and felt the indents the hammers had made on the back.
“You must show the blank paper you’re not afraid of it,” the writer said. “This … is great writing.”
He held the paper up, for all to see, shook the student’s hand and in the same movement stepped off the podium, never to return.
The student did return, many years later, a published, award-winning author.
Fearless, the critics called her writing.
It was the biggest compliment they could have given her.
Did you enjoy this story? Then why not try the 101 stories in 300 words or less in YOU’RE GETTING SLEEPY, THE HYPNOTIST’S APPRENTICE YAWNED.