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Fighting Writer's Block
Friday, June 10, 2022
The moment that I became upon, the one that I was dreading from the very beginning of this writing project… has happened. There comes a time when you wake up, approach your laptop, turn it on, adjust the music of your choice, and then… nothing. Vapid, of course, but all you see in front of you is an enormous concrete wall, and you know what you desire is behind the wall, but the problem is, what do I desire? After that, you realize maybe you’re not as good as you think you are, and other self-defeating thoughts, which at first slowly creep in, but then all of a sudden, it is like a dam breaking, and you are overwhelmed with dread, with thoughts of failure. And it is not even 9 AM! I looked out the window. I see the same cars parked that are always there, and I look for inspiration in the everyday occurrence, but alas, was that even interesting? How can I make the uninteresting interesting?
To change the scenery, I decided to take a shower, got dressed, went on the 96 metro bus to 6TH and Grand, and walked over to the Yorkshire Grill for breakfast. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I just ordered a side of rye toast and a cup of coffee. Of course, I sat at the counter, and oddly enough, I was the only person there. That alone doesn’t bother me because I like being in public spaces and being the only one there. I often feel ‘entitled’ to areas that technically belong to everyone. While sitting there, I found myself silently humming a song “A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich, and You,” written by Al Dubin and Harry Warren. Dublin continued to be a hero because I think a sense of failure always chased him around. Even though he wrote the lyrics to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” the happiness expressed in those lyrics doesn’t entirely gel with the man who wrote them. Throughout his life, he struggled with alcohol and drugs - mainly doctor-prescribed barbiturates, which eventually killed him. At the peak of his struggling career was the depression. The irony of his writing songs like “Lullaby of Broadway” while he was at his worst and the whole U.S. culture dealing with the aftereffects of such a devastating era. It is very moving to me and an inspiration to my occasional writer’s block issues.
My character is among misery. I sought to hide it time-to-time, but it oozes out from either my writing or when I’m home alone having a drink. I wouldn’t say I like to share that side of my personality with the world - or at least face-to-face. But the truth is I don’t want to be in the presence of people that much anymore. Usually, I feel dread, then around the corner comes boredom. As I sat on the counter slowly drinking my cup of coffee, I realized that what I fear the most is social responsibility, and boredom is also hooked up.
After breakfast, I walked around downtown, my favorite destination for a walk. It is not until I travel without a map in an area that I sort of know is where I find the most incredible adventure. I always run across a building or entranceway that I have never noticed before, and I wonder why? This starts my brain cells to progress in a certain way, and suddenly, the concrete wall in front of me is beginning to chip away piece by piece. The process is prolonged, but I’m thankful that some movement is happening. When I returned to my writing area, which tends to be in my library, I looked at a self-portrait by Gustave Courbet, a French artist of the 19th century. The painting is called "The Desperate Man," and it wasn't until now that I realized what drew me to this specific painting was that I saw myself in that work. Then I realized that it was a form of theater for Courbet in that he used himself as a character in his own making. Therefore I realized that as a writer, I, too, have to become a character in my own story. The concrete wall now has an opening; at this point, I can stick my head through the wall to find out what is on the other side.