Story by Matt Potter


Instantly he’s in the doorway, face pale with concern.

“I was just about to email my story,” I say. “And I’ve realised I got the fucking theme wrong!”

“Oh,” he says. “Can you re-write it to make it fit?”

“That’s not the point!”

This bloody story! I even downloaded Rhapsody in Blue to help – I loathe those blaring trumpets and that stupid circling clarinet at the beginning – listening countless times, pretending – hoping – to be inspired.

And all I kept seeing in my head was the black and white opening sequence from Manhattan.

“Write a story about how you got the theme wrong,” he calls out, safe on the other side of the house now.

“I hate this-is-a-story-about-how-I-can’t-write-a-story stories,” I say. “It’s a hack’s cop out.”

I glare at my laptop. I’m to blame. No one made me mistake v for c. Or c for v.

For two days, I bashed out words with grimacing fingers, wrenching images from my whining consciousness – a weak, lumbering, uninspired piece – and now for what?

I thump my fist on the desk, like so many of my characters, and stare at the keyboard.

Urban concert. All those fabulous images I hoped would inspire me – skyscrapers, bridges, traffic lights, traffic jams, parks and gardens, freeways, taxis, rubbish trucks – all stuck nowhere, lame and hopeless and wrong wrong wrong.

Urban concert?

No. Urban convert. Whatever that means.

The deadline ticks closer, outpaced only by my lack of enthusiasm.

Blank blank blank.

Fuck it.





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Filed under Matt Potter

20 responses to “Story by Matt Potter

  1. Al McDermid

    Whatever that means, indeed. Matt, you had me laughing all the way through. “this-is-a-story-about-how-I-can’t-write-a-story stories–hilarious.

    • I just looked up who suggested this theme … and it was you, Al – makes your comment even funnier. Thanks for stumping so many of us. I think there is a reality TV show in this ©!

      • Al McDermid

        There might be a show here. These types of on-line communities are so ‘strange’ (?), ‘unusual’ (?) . . . (Yes, I are a righter). Choose an adjective. We know each though our writing, our comments, and perhaps our other on-line activity, but that’s it. I know here people saying things like, ‘Is he an on-line friend or an actual friend?’

  2. Well, this actually happened to me! I misread the theme and went about wondering what to write about an “urban convict!” Thankfully, I had time to recover!
    I love how you do make a concert when you list the “fabulous images” for the urban “concert.” Also, describing the creative struggle (though I like Rhapsody in Blue!). Thanks.

  3. Loved this at Fictionaut and loved the second read even more. You’ve worked this in perfectly, Matt, and came up with something that every one of us can relate to!

  4. Thank you all thus far for reading and commenting – I had such a struggle with this theme, and then I thought, I can’t write a story about how I can’t write a story – Michelle Elvy had written one such story about a struggle for ideas etc here on 52 / 250 only recently. And then I thought, maybe I can write a story about getting the theme wrong. Then, finally, the story was okay. Yes, the other man in the story IS based on my partner – he laughed out loud when I read him the line, ‘“Write a story about how you got the theme wrong,” he calls out, safe on the other side of the house now.’ He too suffers when my writing is not going the way I want …

  5. this is such a great story. really enjoyed the read. i struggled with the theme, too, btw: i got the words right, but didn’t get the meaning of urban convict first, and went and googled it .. should have turned that into a story, actually, i think now after reading yours.

  6. I enjoyed this, Matt, instant set-up for conflict when theme does not pop into the work. I can relate to your last comment above, too: He too suffers when my writing is not going the way I want…familiar and relatable. The entire house shifts into a prison, or some other metaphor, when I feel stuck. It’s only the river! (or, at least, The Talking Heads would like to think so…)

  7. Len Kuntz

    clever, matt. i even laughed. well done.

  8. This is definitely a fear of mine.

  9. Ha! This was fabulous, Matt. Thank you for putting to words my own mind farts on some of these themes. Great device, I am sure to plagarize the idea. I needed to laugh, and you delivered big time. Peace…

  10. Kim Hutchinson

    Loved this at FN, and love it here!

  11. Kelly Grotke

    smiling now too, hehe – nice job, Matt, with my appreciation as well for the balance you struck between humor and frustration

  12. grey johnson

    You did a better job with thisone than I did…I wrote nothing at all. Well done.

  13. Pingback: Week # 30 – Urban convert | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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