Friday, December 7, 2012

Prophylactics for Writers

Photo Credit: Morguefile by Taylor Schlades

Recently, I have suffered from writer's block. This is not a usual problem for me. Although I am both shy and introverted, I am neither quiet nor short on words. I have, in fact, boasted frequently that I will never run out of things to write because there are always things to experience. I merely translate one into the other. I suppose it had not occurred to me that there are simply things one might not want to say: sentences running through one's head, heavy with thought and emotion, that are perhaps not worth chiseling into anything that one might read. Some thoughts are sand paintings and exist only to be blown away. Writing is the act of pressing a copper tool into hard stone. Forever in writing we commit a thought to the world, as if it were anything more than the ash off a blaze, alight for a minute, and later revealed to be grey and dead. People read it full of fire and they wonder. For the writer it has long been something cold.

I have woken full of embers that want to leap into the sky. I watch them to see what path they'll take before they extinguish themselves upon the earth. I am full of things to say. Noisesome, indulgent, wretched things. Things that feel hot and true as they burn into my skin. Up, up they go—past the edge of my consciousness and down again. Fireflies of sorrow in the night. The word is a powerful way to kill your future, if you lend fire to embers that burn too close to where you live.

So, in silence I sit. Nothing, I think. There is nothing. Nothing really to say. Just the exercising of words like muscles to keep them limber, the motion of keeping warm. So much mooing and baying and caterwauling at the screen that receives the noises which turn to letters and to words. Things without meanings, divested of the spirit of my voice.

This is writer's block: a dam against one's saying the things that it is better not to say. Perhaps I should not hate it. The keeping of certain thoughts in treasured boxes reveals them to be the repeated rantings of a lunatic with a pen.

December 4, 2001 There is a zombie in my closet. Last night, I could feel its approach. The cold hand of death was inches from my neck when I awoke. 

May 14, 2007 Tonight as I fell off to sleep, I heard the stumbling of a corpse in the bedroom closet, a thing animated and gruesome. It hid as I turned on the light. I was awake the rest of the night.

September 10, 2012 It seems impossible, but I believe there to be a zombie in my closet. I must think what action I can take.

This is the problem with journaling. You start to know yourself as someone who repeats things, like a fading Alzheimer's patient, as if you were trying to hold certain thoughts carefully in the forefront of your mind lest you accidentally forget. It is critical to remember why I became angry with my cousin in 1991, the reasons I am not a Republican, the fears I have of driving in the dark. The things one can say are finite and limited. We call this "our personality." I am sick of mine. My writings read like the repeated murder and animation of the same poor corpse. I ooonnnnce was lossssst and nowwwww I'm foouuuuuunndddd...was bliiiind, but nowwwww....I suspect I'm still blind. I'm bumping into walls and pretending I can see. This, I suspect, is the state of being human. I am sick to death of it.

Before the invention of existential angst, I am not sure what people got me for Christmas. Probably drear socks and merry bursts of song. What I really like to get is something that allows everyone to look at me, with that bothered skepticism in their eyes, and say,

"What the Hell are you talking about, Tara? I don't know what you mean."

Writer's block. It's like prophylactics for writers to protect against the venereal disease of being misunderstood. In advance of anything, sheathe oneself in latex and be careful you do not let pass the essence of your thought.

It would have been infinitely better to have done so in this case.


  1. Wow! Are we ever in the same boat, sister. I wrote much the same thing last night - just not as well :). xo

  2. You are one of the few people I know who can say you have nothing to say, and do it with enviable style. Yet I sill adore you. Weird.

    I haven't written much of anything since early summer. Well, that's not exactly right. I've written, I just haven't written much of anything I've wanted to share. I'm kinda tired of the whole bloggy thing, at least mine. Double weird.

    1. I completely agree. I kept thinking while I read this that my writer's block never resulted in something so well-written.
      (Your title made me laugh!)

  3. i have many things i want to say... but cant... it will show too much... my thoughts on bald children waiting for death... the time when i was a cop and had to shoot a dog runned over. i still dream about that one. the dog looked at me and it knew and it did not work like the movies and who wants another book about a dog that became my life.

  4. There is value in being quiet, I think. Not saying you should be quiet, just that there is something to be had from it.

  5. This is, of course, lovely. Writer's block is rarely an absence of ideas for me, it is more like what you describe. Even when I do try to write those unthinkable thoughts down, they come out all stiff and deformed and they roll around and drool instead of making sentences.

    Latex makes me itchy, though.

    Also, you should just listen to this song: a few times and dance.

  6. Hmm, perhaps it's something in the air we breath these days...guess we recognize it because it's so familiar, even though our outcomes are individual and different.

    Mine resulted in thoughts around roles. Roles we enter semi consciously, or completely ignorant about. I wrote them down and posted them. I sometimes lack impulse control with this. I still consider myself a newbie in the blogger world.

    There really is value in being quiet. Sometimes silence is gold.

  7. Sitting in the ashes is never comfortable. It doesn't seem to matter how many times we find ourselves there, it always feels like the first time.

    And it always feels totally like death. Even though the most energy expended in a plant's life is in winter, unhidden and unseen, under the soil.

  8. I have really fallen down on returning comments this last week or so. I want you all to know that I read and thought about everything you said. Sue, your words are so beautiful and so completely true. So much of what everyone has said just allows me to breathe deeply and think to myself that I am not insane, or at least not alone. And I think it is so true that silence can be golden and that some things just are not said well. That is exactly what I meant. But, of course, you all knew that.


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