Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bring Out Your Dead!

For weeks now I’ve had hulking great ‘writer’s block’. Each morning has been the same: my fingers hover over my keyboard, sentences in my head unraveling themselves, the passion in my belly shrinking to nothing. No metaphors spring from the black pit of my brain. No imagery dances across my tired eyes. I am null and void. Kaput. Bring out your dead! I want to shout from my living room window. I find it hard to believe I’ll ever write another good sentence again, or that I ever did. Words clunk into each other, and so I press DELETE over and again, unpicking all I thought I wanted to say. I'm presented with a blank page, an unscratchable itch. A life without writing.
     Where once was bustle, voices, movement, now is shadow and an eerie quiet. It’s been great for getting on with the rest of life – I’ve mended two record players, been prompt with my recycling and even caught up on hula hooping. I’ve earned money. But the silence is disturbing. I think of those Chilean miners after the tunnel had collapsed, seven hundred metres under solid ground; I imagine them staring through torchlight at impenetrable walls. They survived on so little sustenance, but more, they survived that deathly quiet. They kept themselves going by making enough noise to drown it out - the silence that encircled them like a noose. They sang, prayed, talked; they planned, and laughed.
     Oh, to have such guts. Today the sky outside my window is heavy, as though it’s propped up by the two TV aerials on the roof of the house opposite. Someone told me the other day that in dreams we cast no shadow, that the unconscious is self-illuminating. So I slap my hand to see if I’m really awake. Or if I’m merely sleepwalking through my days: mornings spent in a cheap dressing gown, pressing fingers against a hot, stained teacup hoping it will stir my unconscious voice into life. A world without words is an easier place, but also a colder one. I take a sip of tea, stare down into the white hole of my computer screen - and freeze.


Paul said...

Easy. Stop writing. Start experiencing.

Need to put your experiential hand-to-hand empirical brain into gear. Too much rationalization. Need grist for the mill. Writing is after all transcribing events that happen as you make them up. You need real events and stimuli in order to do that WITH DYNAMIC.

I would imagine you are writing stuff that is hollow and dead. Long flowery eloquent descriptions of nothing.

See? Fill it out baby. Go get into trouble, make mistakes and FEEL SOMETHING. :))

clare said...



I'd welcome the day when I could, even occasionally, feel a little less, Paul. And as for writing flowery, hollow prose, you may not like this post much, but it isn't the product of writing headily and abstractly for months when I could have been out stealing disability carts and home-rearing a herd of alpacas, it's me saying I CAN"T FUCKING WRITE! SHIT! MISERY! and hoping by saying that I might just crack the ice. So I think you've kind of missed the point there. Oh well.