I don’t have writer’s block in the classic sense of the term. For most people, writer’s block implies not able to write anything, at all. No words flow our just anxiety like a cork on a wine bottle nobody can get out, until one breaks the top of the bottle to get at some of the vintage. It may have a few shards (go with me on this metaphor), but it’s out.
No, I have a writer’s plank. It’s the feeling of pieces of board nailed, again metaphorically, over the door over some part of my creativity. I have the words, the support of an encouraging group, but the dang thing drags behind me. I have pressed ‘Delete’ so many times I have lost count. I worry about how things sound, and if I do put something out people out this typo, or that sentence. Hey, why don’t you try to create something, while trying to outwit another language spoken as a child?
I actually felt angry writing that last sentence. That’s good. I mean why not get good and angry? Why not get good and angry at the grammar nerds more interested in proving their superiority than actually creating something. Why not get good and angry at the paint-by-numbers academic journals, their sentences bled dry of any life of the topic they write about. I am looking at you library publications! Why not get good and angry at the professor who used one of my essays in first year university to show, and I quote, ‘a piece that needs improvement.’ Thanks a lot of the fear and the shame I still felt despite taking the initiative to get tutoring. How about this for a radical concept:
If you are going to take a piece as an example of needing an improvement, how about telling the person one on one than exposing that essay to the entire class?
See, I think I used a comma splice. I may have used one in that previous sentence. It’s either a comma splice or a run on sentence, as I often write like I talk, and trust me I can talk at a break-neck speed. Holy cow after doing that preface for my group, I had no idea how tired this fear makes me. It’s the fear of being exposed, peeling away this façade to get at the vulnerable bits. If I don’t get at those bits, I can’t write truthfully about anything, in any setting. In short, I can’t speak the truth in reality or fiction.
The truth is messy. It something flows easily out of beautifully constructed sentences. Most of the times it’s misspelled, comma-spliced, and running a marathon. Nobody told me the messiness is part of a long process. Only now do I know it’s good to ramble, to get things flowing, and to just do it. Nobody needs to break the truth to me with a hammer. A feather would do. I will do the work with less fear. Even now the nails on the plank have begun to loosen.