I write to shut it the hell up. To get it out of my head.
It’s not a choice. Writing is hard for me, requiring patience and discipline and a grinder mentality my short attention span is sometimes challenged to accommodate.

But I can’t not do it.

An image or word, a phrase or premise, stuck in my head like some hideous pop tune. It taps me on the shoulder while I’m showering. It rides along with me in the car, blotting out the music. It whispers during conversation. I have to ask you to repeat yourself, not because I’m not listening, but because it is so loud.

Surgery is required to eliminate it. I have to draw it out, put it on a slice of white, operate with a flashing cursor. Still, that is not enough.

It demands not only attention, but effort. It gobbles up hours, then days, then months. If left alone, it gestates for years. An eternal, mental pregnancy that only has one possible ending.

So I write.

Not enough, not quite right, it whispers. It begs for not only birth, but longevity. It insists on justice, full realization. More. The hungriest ones grow fat. The pulse becomes theirs and theirs alone, pulling me.  Weak ones, I have to push start. But I can’t stop. I can’t let them die. Not until the pulse is strong and they leave the nest or they die on the table. Either way, silence reigns.

I write until the quiet.

But it doesn’t last long. Another whisper senses darkness, silence. Finally, it has the floor to itself. It rises up and speaks to me, smiling.

I have no choice but to smile back—and write.

Fred Venturini grew up in Patoka, Illinois, where he survived being lit on fire by a bully, a neck-breaking car accident, and being chewed up by a pit bull. His fiction has appeared in places like River Styx, The Death Panel, Sick Things, Johnny America, and Necrotic Tissue, and he is a two-time Chuck Palahniuk anthology finalist. He lives in Southern Illinois with his beautiful wife, Krissy. The Samaritan is his first novel.