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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Saved by Taco Truck

I’ve been having an interesting time with my writing. I have about two dozen short stories started but need closing. For days, and in some cases weeks, I have produced nothing. I have written, but more often than not, I’d write, reread, and delete in disgust and utter disappointment.

No writer likes to talk about her writer's block, but then I am not sure that's what is happening here. I think that a lot of what is happening around me is affecting the writing in ways I did not expect. Writing feels almost frivolous some days. My heart is rejecting the short stories I am working on…

Stephen King wrote a decade ago that, “[t]here may be a stretch of weeks or months when it [writing] doesn't come at all; this is called writer's block. Some writers in the throes of writer's block think their muses have died, but I don't think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.”

It is possible that I have poisoned the champagne fountain I keep in the back of my head for the Muse, and she doesn’t want to hang out (I wouldn’t either if my hostess tried to poison me!). I have, in effect, pushed creativity aside because I cannot throw myself wholeheartedly into the process right now – there are extenuating circumstances that are screaming louder than art can.

Sometimes you get bombarded by things that are unrelated to your work and still it affects your ability to create – because it distracts and detracts, because it maximizes stress and minimizes your love for creativity… The reasons are many and it doesn’t matter whether it is justifiable or not, as long as you pick up a pen or tap on a keyboard and cannot come up with true words.

I think I am a little offended that my writer’s block is limited and without nuance. 

When playwright Lillian Hellman lay dying, her writing partner came to her side. Before he saw her, he was informed that Ms. Hellman was in agony. She was blind, half paralyzed, had suffered several strokes and was snappy--just as liable to go into a rage or crying fits, she could not walk or eat or sleep and she could barely find a sitting position that did not cause her discomfort and great pain.

He entered the room and greeted his friend, “How are you doing, Lillian?”

She replied, “Not good…”

He resigned himself to listen to his friend’s endless list of complaints, and said, “What’s the matter?”

Lillian Hellman’s reply was epic and I have never forgotten it: “This is the worst writer’s block I’ve ever had.”

I figure if you are doing better than Lillian Hellman in her deathbed, then you have no right to bitch about it.

And as it turns out, an idea for a quick scene turned into the core of a story. I wrote! I wrote and wrote. I didn’t self-censor. I did not delete. I was not dissatisfied. No block here, then, just life (bizarre as it is these days) getting in my way.

All I can tell you is that a taco truck saved the day (just not in the way you think!).