It is inspiring when from nothing you can create something!
I was supposed to be tidying up my bookshelves when I stumbled across an article I had published in NewsWrite, the newsletter of the NSW Writers’ Centre back in 1997. I remember I was suffering writer’s block at the time and was determined to put pen to paper … no matter what. I just had to share this with you:-
SUFFERING WRITER’S BLOCK
I sit in my usual place, a white plastic chair in the sun. Pen poised, ready to touch paper. White paper that glares at me. I glare back. I plan to write magical musical words that flow from a fountain of creativity down my arm, into my hand, through the ink in my pen and onto white blinding paper. This excites me. The nib of my pen touches and teases the paper when….
Husband informs me he’s been on the phone to the W.I.R.E.S. people. A red belly black snake is sunning itself in the garden. They’re coming to relocate it. I watch the snake curl up on dry leaves in the sun. A creature looking for warmth on a land he has as much right to – in a quiet place, not bothering anyone. My sun, your sun, everyone’s sun – even the red belly black snake’s sun.
“They’re coming to take you away,” I tell it.
Husband asks if I’ve chewed on one too many pens.
I write, ‘Red Belly black snake’, and I sit in the sun for a long time thinking. This is known by some as Writer’s Block, and can reach devastating proportions if you let it! “He probably wants to collect his thoughts. I can understand that, and when he unravels them all, he will have succeeded.”
Husband chooses to ignore me. There is relief on his face when the people from W.I.R.E.S. drive up. They leave without the snake. The creature has outsmarted them. I smile. ONE! For the red belly black snake. I spend time thinking the snake is an omen. A short story? A poem? There are projects I have started and cannot nourish to their full potential until the words come. For now I must wait and begin something new. I must always create. I need to.
I dust my desk and tidy my drawers while I give it some thought. I write:- Words are endless, not ink in a pen. And I can’t help but wonder why not another word comes? They lay dormant. Waiting. I’ll wait and when they come I’ll be there.
I am a real writer – some people just don’t know it yet.
At dinner I push my fork into the roast chicken. I hear a bird screech. I wonder whether the red belly black snake has caught its dinner. I lift my glass of water. “To procrastination,” I say.
“Writers are weird,” comments eight year old.
It pleases and thrills me that she recognises me as a writer. I enjoy my chicken, toss out my water and open a bottle of wine!
The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary tells me:- PROCRASTINATE – put off doing things, leave things undone as long as possible.
I wonder whether the red belly black snake is in fact procrastinating.
I am back on the white plastic chair in the sun. I bite into a mandarin. Its juices wet my mouth. I suck on it. My tongue breaks the inner skin. Cool and sweet. I drink its juice, until there is none. Nothing. I leave it in the sun, to dry and shrivel.
And just when I really begin to wonder about myself. I am stunned … a letter of acceptance arrives in the mail. They want to publish my short story, and they want to pay me! Oh, what a feeling! I leave the road side mail boxes and run up the steep drive. This is what it’s all about – you’ve got something to say, and they want to listen! The whole mountain knows I’m happy!
I ponder the possibility I am ‘a real writer’. My writing is blossoming and will do so until my final written word. I am determined.
Confidence draws a powerful energy.
The second man from W.I.R.E.S. rides up on a motor bike. I hear him say that red belly black snakes are docile … I think how the snake has eluded man, sunned himself each day every day for the last ten days … and wonder who is docile? The second man from W.I.R.E.S. rides away on his motorbike without the red belly black snake. TWO! for the red belly black snake.
The red belly black snake who doesn’t want to be caught. Who doesn’t want to be released somewhere into the bush. Who doesn’t want to be collected into a dark bag and taken away. Wants to stay where he is and enjoy the sun. My sun, your sun, everyone’s sun, even the red belly black snake’s sun. Snakes need sun … it helps them survive! Writers need readers … it keeps them alive!
Four year old chases a ball into the garden … the same garden the red belly black snake suns himself in. I realise husband’s fears. Death is a scraping and slicing of shovel on rock. Hearing life being taken away disturbs me. Sometimes we have to do what has to be done. Goodbye red belly black snake.
I sit in my usual place, a white plastic chair in the sun. I listen.
The Voice: You haven’t put pen to paper in days.Me: I have so.
The Voice: Those few words, scattered here and there?
Me: Words join, make sentences. They blend.
The Voice: Tell me more.
Me: I’m in the thinking stage … again. I’m absorbing – people, voices, faces, sound, colour ….
The Voice: Writer’s Block huh?
Me: I hear it sorts out the real writers from the pretend ones.
The Voice: Are you a real writer?
Me: Can I get back to you on that?
* * *
Well, I better get back to tidying up those bookshelves. I wonder what else I will find?
Happy writing ….