Stages of The Block


1. Realization:
you stare at the familiar blinking black dash on Word
Normally it would be reminiscent of the stalk of a black tree in an Arabian wilderness, or
the brim of a gentleman’s cap in a London Holmesish mystery
or philosophical black-or-white thoughts like clouds on the verge between sunset and twilight.
But today it is a line. Black. Black on white paper.
Only white paper. Plain white paper.
It can’t possibly be happening again.

2. Panic

you return to the project that last had your zesty interest, the stack of mismatched papers from a forgotten novel
stashed in a drawer. A journal from the teenage years, an article fallen far from
the “recent” tab, a pitch that came back with red lines but at least one undying thesis.
Nothing. You read them all. The spark is dead.
Then head-scratching, knuckle cracking, pencil tapping, foot swinging, pacing, frowning, scowling
eyebrow raising, paper crumpling, head in hands.
It is happening.

3. Scribblings

you are desperate to arouse the ghost of genius from its slumber within your rushing mind, so you
return to its graveyard and begin the scrawlings. Meaningless doodles
on napkins, dreadful haikus in the middle of a spiral notebook, typed out paragraphs that hint of
Shakespeare’s Hamlet–only more dramatic and more pathetic.
Useless, it bubbles up only to drain out again…
More crumpled paper. An idea strikes home until you work it out and remember that it was
already written in your favorite novel, already penned by a great artist who
must seriously never have suffered from the block.
How did she do it? How does anyone do this?

4. Resignation

you close the white page and resign to the callings of Netflix and the steamy scent of buttered popcorn and chai tea latte with three hefty
sugar scoops. Why spend time opening the mind; life is hard enough without more words.
Give up. Move on. Hard break-up that was–you and your pen that you loved so dearly!
Gourging on junk food, distractions, teary-eyed texting, moaning, groaning, dancing to music, driving, flopping on the sofa
staring angrily at published authors polished names on novels, scorn of success, headaches, tea, tylenol.
The passion is ringing but you end the call. Ignore the messages. No more dreaming of Random House or book signings or feature films.
Breathe in, breathe out.
It’s all over.

5. Inspiration

An actor’s face, the spice of the chai, a quote on the wall, a memory re-aroused. Once you forget about the block
it’s power wanes like ice melting at the touch of spring’s soothing fingertips.
Thoughts of words galour! The universe unveiled! Reincarnated, you can see the characters of
a thousand stories, touch their hair, feel their skin, look deep within their eyes. Their stories are already penned in your mind
ready to come alive, ready to be written.
Pause the  show, swallow the bite, take one last sip.
The writer takes a final breath and shakes off the cobwebs of the spell.
And writing the first word, the dash ceases to blink. It moves, black on white, but this time words.
You ignore the voice in the back of your head:
Sooner or later, it will all begin again.

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