Working around the block|Shop Talk

It’s been nearly a year since I posted a damn thing to this blog. While I can’t in good conscience say, “I’ve had writer’s block,” I can admit to a year-long complete lack of desire to write.

But I knew it couldn’t last forever. The old itch came back, and I was prompted to revisit some old pieces, to take a look at editing some of my work with a fresh perspective.

Ever felt like this? Is writer's block ruining your life? Is this guy Toby Maguire? Does it even matter?
Ever felt like this? Is writer’s block ruining your life? Is this guy Toby Maguire? Does it even matter?

While scrolling through my documents, I found an interesting exercise in combating writer’s block (see below). The exercise came on the heels of a creative nonfiction assignment during my senior years of college. I was tasked with talking about the moon, the night sky, and how it made me feel–or some such blather. At the time, I couldn’t gather my thoughts on the topic, which left me feeling ridiculous. I mean, here’s this thing I truly enjoy, but I can’t help but fumble about my thoughts. Was I really experiencing writer’s block?

I didn’t believe in writer’s block, I always just chalked it up to laziness, being scatter-brained, or a general lack of interest. Regardless of why it was happening, it was happening and I wasn’t happy about it. So I just started writing what came to mind. In all honesty, it sounds silly–and reads even more so–but the exercise I came up with was to write in a stream of consciousness style, removing the filter of what I was writing. Instead, I just wrote it.

I hammered away on the keys, my eyes never looking at the screen or keyboard. Instead, I focused inward at the jumble of words, phrases, and otherwise jaunty mess filling my head. Before I knew it, the mess filled more than a page (single spaced, no less), and my thoughts about the moon and night sky were front and center, ready to be recorded. It only took a couple of minutes to unclog the filter.

I’m sure there are many other ways of combating writer’s block, but I’ve only ever needed the one. And as promised earlier, here’s a look at the exercise’s final product:

I stared in awe at the night sky, its pale shining of the moon on a cloudless night that first sold me.

it was immaculate, it was wrong, it was black, it was dong, i don’t know why i mattered, for the wishing well was on fire. the moon shone pale in the starry night sky. a collapse of tree rubber set fire to the abandoned coal mine. children and women were destroyed equally. fabulous rose petals strewn about on the cobblestone path, giving birth to the fleet of foot as they passed in their shiny Cadillacs. Nobody saw them come or go. True secret whispers in the dandelion fields that night. the hip hop cavalcades danced to jesters and madmen as the piper flared his trumpet. the vibrato of ten dead men silhouetted the stairs for a man who wasn’t there.

Giants in the circus tent, fire on the lawn. A million birds chirping for the sprinkler spat back corn. The trials and tribulations of Elizabethans on vacation was tremendous. Who would have thought eleven hookers in a Rolls Royce would look so daunting. Plastic field work elaborates the destiny of a small nation. A great boon was to be had, but it fell of the lip into the stream. Or was it an ocean? A tall drink of Kool-Aid.

Round robin the children fiddle players play. Once, twice, thrice the whole damned day. The kittens and pickle barrels are flat as seesaws in the winter. Brevity the soul of wit, my elbow grease on a spit. When I was a kid I pronounced it death. Not deaf. I didn’t get the difference. I didn’t have to. I could hear just fine. And then my mind’s eye saw the whole world for what it was. A lie.

My thoughts run clearer now, releasing the garbage from my cramped little brain. It was the moon, and something about tranquility that was going to bide my time tonight. Not stream of consciousness blather. Ha! Blather. What an odd word. So I’m aware of what I’m saying. The filter is back on. And I’m off.


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