On Writer’s Block or the Unbearable Heaviness of Encrusted Creativity

I had so many things to say! But the paper refused to yield its blankness to the black ink.

I think I’m over the worst of this particular virus. There have been things I’ve been able to write and subjects that not only caught my interest but spilled out responses so fast I couldn’t write them all down. But, the phrase writer’s block must remain whispered lest it rise up again, shouting and threatening to drown out my efforts to be heard. Not that I have to be heard, I just have to write.

I have a saying printed and pasted in front of my nose. It says “WRITE! YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON IT!”

It sounds threatening as well as admonitory but it also acknowledges of the truth that many writers know; writing is a must because otherwise, like an unblown nose, we’d get all stopped up. At least that’s how I know I can feel sometimes.

What do I do when I feel stopped up? I write nonsense. I just write. I walk all over the page in my muddy boots. I wade in that consciousness stream and stomp and splash and scare all the fish. I go catch an imaginary pool frog and observe how shiny his skin is and describe the patterns to myself. I slide into the dream-dappled shade and then try to make something of the world I’ve slipped into by putting it all on paper.

Sometimes I just stare at the white space on my computer. I’ve done that for unconscious hours and then shook the ice off myself, my body stiffened and painful from a frozen existence. The white space doesn’t fill itself. This surprises me because you’d think it would from all that mindful effort to download.

I think about all the times I was told I was no writer and that I should just concentrate on other things. Like raising children, like weeding the garden, like working in a soulless, suck-the-life-out-of-you job, like loading or unloading the dishwasher. I also think about what well-meaning people have told me about the way to write — have a set place, time, number of words or pages and just do it every day! Like a job! I have another saying “Routine Kills Creativity”.

I gave a very young friend a geode. It looked like an ordinary, sedimentary mud ball, hardened into a fist-sized rock. He kept it for a year before I saw it again, whole, sitting on his shelf. “You haven’t cracked it open yet?” I asked him.

“No” he answered. “I want to imagine what’s inside for a while longer.”

I understood completely. Writing is sometimes like that for me. I need the words to roll around in my head, crystalizing until a rough diamond is formed and then I can crack it open and hopefully spill out a gem. The hard part, like that rock of a geode, is cracking it open and sometimes like the geode there is nothing much there. Oh well. It still has to be cracked open. Otherwise, it is just a rock.

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