In Which She Contracts a Case of Writer's Block and Silence Ensues

The Resting Drawer: where new poems go to rest
Reader, it's true. I've had a bad case of the block for the last week and a half. Writer's block is so miserable...... at least, it is when you're a writer.

I have learned to expect a wrestle with writer's block a few times a year. It usually begins innocently enough, with a particularly busy week of Being a Mom during which my writerly routine gets upended. Once I'm out of my groove and a few days go by with no writing, no new poems, I start to feel a little skittish. A few more days and I'm downright distracted. Next comes the worst phase of the block: the days during which I am utterly convinced I will never write another poem again. It's often the case that I'm back at my desk during this phase. And yet............ nada. There are no more poems, I say to myself. All the poems have been written. It's over. And, in an unsettling development, the writer's block has started to seep over into my bloggy-life, too. I think I actually told myself, Well, if you don't have any poems to write, I'm sure you don't have anything worth posting to your blog, either.

All the while, the librarian part of my brain (you know, the part that's stern and no-nonsense) says in its librarian voice: "Now dear, you know this happens from time to time, and you know it won't last forever. Read something worth reading, get a good night's sleep, and try again in the morning."

Yes, that's what the librarian voice says. I understand the logic; I know on an intellectual level that the librarian is right. But I never believe it in my bones.

And so, during episodes of writer's block, I am expert at doing Other Things, all of which I am convinced (as I'm doing them) will lead to the next poem. This time around, I pulled out a list of writing prompts hoping it would unblock me, chose the prompt about writing from a news headline, and decided to write a poem from "Bees Hinder Rescue After Fatal Wreck." But first, I decided, I would do some research about bees. That required a trip to the library, approximately 182 Google searches, hours and hours of reading and note-taking, scientific observation in my front garden, and the like.

Guess what: Still no poem about bees.

When writer's block comes to an end it is usually during that hazy state of being not quite awake and not quite asleep. My theory is that this is the time when the subconscious -- the river of words flowing beneath the conscious mind -- can rise up above the rational; that is, when the Muse can win out over the Inner Critic. Just yesterday, I was dozing when the Muse came along. Every day is a creation story, she said. She said, You remember, there weren't many happy endings.

Now there is a poem in the Resting Drawer (photo above; I would share the draft with you here but it is so unfinished and quite bleak, to boot). The Resting Drawer is the place where drafts go to rest after they're written and before they're revised. I try to leave them alone in there for at least twenty-four hours, but often, little snippets of revision will come to me and I reach in, pull out the neophyte, trace some gentle notes in the margins, close it back up in the drawer again and wait.

Another round with writer's block under my belt.


CitricSugar said...

I feel your woes - although mine is usually a case of 'ants in the pants' and not making myself sit still long enough to allow the words to come to me.

I wish you inspiration!

Gerry said...

A Resting Drawer. That's exactly what I need. Not sure whether the pages or the writer should be tucked in there, though. Either way, it just sounds comforting.