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being a blockhead.

January 29, 2011

ah. this is a subject that i’ve had some impassioned discussions about – or at least i’ve listened to people have impassioned discussions about this subject. it’s very controversial in my program.


this is what i picture whenever i hear "blockhead". i watched gumby SO MUCH when i was a child.


people seem to either believe that writer’s block exists or it doesn’t. there is no in-between.

if people believe that writer’s block is non-existent, it seems to be because they think it’s a cover for laziness, for cowardice, for the inability to step up to the plate and bring the bat up to the shoulder. i’ve had people tell me that they think writer’s block is “bullshit”, that anyone who uses the term is weak, is using the idea of a block as a crutch. in fact, we had a lecture from andrew pyper the other day in the creative writing class that i help TA, and one of his hard five rules of successful writing was that “writer’s block doesn’t exist.”

i think it does exist. maybe before i would have been strident and caustic and declared that anyone who did have writer’s block was lazy and was just faking it because they didn’t want to write. or maybe i’m a lazy writer and i’m just so biased and close to my writing situation that i can’t see it properly. maybe i’m also cowardly. this is a possibility. i am not the bravest writer, but i like to think that i push boundaries and write through the uncomfortable. or maybe i was reticent and unwilling and just couldn’t identify it. but what i’ve felt in the last few weeks – i had never felt anything like that before – this heavy icky weight on my shoulders that just didn’t want me to write specific stuff.

i guess writer’s block is a tough thing to define. for the past two months, i have written no fiction. i have had absolutely no desire to. people have been asking if i am depressed, and i suppose that on some level i am (was?). but i was getting very frequent and very endorphin-rich exercise. i was eating well, and getting fresh air. i was interacting with friends, whether it was face-to-face or over the internet. i was reading. i just didn’t want to write. i couldn’t write. maybe it sounds dramatic, but i needed a break from it. my brain wouldn’t let me sit down to my thesis, and neither would it let me sit down to any other fiction that i was working on. the form made me angry, and writing was like pulling teeth with nasty curved roots – tough and nothing good was coming of it, just some minor carnage. i was able to write poetry but it had to be vastly different from any of the fiction that was in my brain. i wrote poems about rock and roll and straight relationships and fishing boats and crows.

i was not lazy. and maybe i was cowardly, but how i saw it was like this: i needed a break. a writer’s break. some structure in my brain – some part of my mind – was keeping me from writing. i see it as a protection method. i was keeping myself from going insane in those darkest nights of the soul. it was something mental that kicked in – like selective amnesia stops or memory repression keeps people from remembering awful things sometimes – as a protective thing.


dark night of the soul.


i don’t know how to explain it. it was really upsetting. and weird not to be writing. but i didn’t feel guilty.

and i do believe writer’s block exists, and i do think it’s a mental thing. i think that you need to do a lot of mental healing and mental “keeping house” in order to attack some pieces again. you lay things aside for a reason.

i’m not going to apologize for the way i write. i get teased for supporting the idea of the muse, but i don’t care. i’ll take the muse and the angel and the concept of the duende because i think they are beautiful things. if i live with my characters in my head all the time, so be it. i believe in the idea of writer’s block, and i don’t believe i should force any  writing out if it doesn’t want to come. i’m a deep-feeling person. i tend towards the anxious and the depressive, the cyclothymic at times (like many creative people) and if i choose to stop my writing when i feel really panicky – when i feel deadened or upset – to keep myself from have a full-blown freak out then i should have that right.

i don’t know. what do you think? i think i might be bat-shit crazy. and also i don’t really care.

if you don’t like french don’t click below. la caution is a french duo – you might know their song the a la menthe as the song from ocean’s 12 laser capoeira scene. sometimes i like to listen to rap in different languages because i think it works a different part of my brain.


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