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I don't believe in writer's block. I believe in illness. I believe in grief. I even believe in leprechauns occasionally. But I don't believe in writer's block.

My father, who wrote a great deal ( in longhand, on yellow legal pads)  used to shave whenever he got stuck. The water was soothing and somehow, while drawing the razor across his face, his thoughts would come together.  He gave me this small personal revelation after I had described how showers "unstuck" me when I'd come to a roadblock.  The roadblocks were invariably the result of having written something wrong - a scene that took the story on a detour, or a stretch of dialogue that was filled with potholes. Eventually, the shower would clear my head, reveal where I had gone astray, and I would leap back into the driver's seat, almost dry.

Those small roadblocks are not writer's block.  They are just temporary obstacles. 

Writer's block is when the words go away. Entirely. There is nothing in your head. When you lie down in the evening and think of your characters, there is nobody there. The film has ended, the credits have rolled, and there is just a blank screen where the action once was.

I have not written anything of substance, that is, anything of fiction, since the day my father died. When he left the planet, he took his shaving kit with him.  It's not really so much that I miss him, although I do, but that writing was the only thing we had in common.  Like most fathers of his generation, he found it difficult to talk to his children - and impossible to say anything personal.

 My father left behind a collection of nearly eight thousand books, several scientific volumes that he had edited, over a  hundred published articles, and dozens of papers he had written but had not gotten around to publishing. The week before he died, I'd said I'd get them published. It was the last thing I said to him.

I don't believe in God. I don't believe in Spirit, or The Universe either. But I do believe in promises.  I have the feeling that when I keep mine, the empty space that used to be inhabited by people who don't exist will once again be filled.  And my father, who never got the chance to hold anything I'd published in his hands, will let the words come back.




 


Comments

10/05/2012 6:38am

This is a beautifully written sentiment about your dad, who was a remarkable man in many ways. Certainly, his life's work significantly contributed to the science of tactile research. Your website and blog are wonderful! Keep going ....

Lauren Tucker
10/05/2012 7:51am

Beautiful! I am looking forward to reading more. Keep blogging, please.

10/10/2012 11:22am

Writers Block is often seen negatively, even as a dibilitating affliction. This is not necessarily so. It may just be a waypoint. Those who encounter writers block should consider the possibility they may have nothing of consequence to say at that point. That is, their mind is in the process of organizing thoughts before allowing the 'owner' to proceed with writing them.

10/10/2012 3:33pm

I agree. I have often thought that when productivity slows it is because something is being worked out at a deeper level. When I was a musician, I would frequently struggle over a passage until, realizing I could not master it, I'd give up. A week later, I'd be able to play it. Writing is somewhat similar.


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