It's that time of night when you let your guard down, only for a moment--like forgetting to go back and close the front door after you've hauled in your groceries.
And in that moment, something pads through the doorway on soft feet and comes up behind you while you're putting your thoughts away for tomorrow.
"What if you can't do it again? What if you've written your last story?" it asks, before you can turn and stop the thought from finishing.
And there you are, with that question already taking hold in the shadowy layers of your brain, daring you to let it stay and get comfortable. Daring you to leave it there, just until morning.
"Let me help you test your dedication," it teases.
But you can't. You know you can't. You have to deny it, pull it out before the roots have a chance to twist their tiny spindles into you. Because it will take.
Oh, yes, it will take...
You can't let the thought repeat, not even once. You've seen what it has done to others--others who have put down their pens to tend the lovely gardens in their minds, to spend their thoughts on things prettier than villains and conflicts and the need to throw rocks at a hero while he clings desperately to the teetering branches of a story.
But you cannot pause to imagine what that carefree life might look like for you. You cannot pause. You must spin 'round and slap that monster out of your head.
Of course you can do it again. You've done it so many times already, started with a blank page and created an entire world upon it. Something with weight. Something with girth when it's printed off. Something tangible.
It should even be easier this time. (Of course, it won't be, but you can pretend.)
And just in case, you grab a broom and chase the thing back out the door, to let it know it is not welcome in your house.
Let it wander the dark streets and find some other mind to contaminate with doubt. And with luck, the doors will all be closed.
And if it returns, and scratches at your window, the sound will be drowned by your furious typing.