Because if there is, I’ve caught it. Not that I’m a writer, per se, not like published novelists, revered historians, hate-mongering extremists–oh wait, they aren’t ‘writers’ either. They just spew stuff out, it splats onto the computer screen, some greedy publisher knowing crazy sells puts it between cardboard, and voila! They’re labeled writers. It slays me when Bill O’Reilly ‘writes’ a history of Lincoln–with some obscure name attached on the bottom. He did pen a suspense novel, I have an inscribed copy to prove it. Did I read it? No. The ghost on that one was truly invisible.
But I digress. (Those thoughts did increase my word count though.See below.) I’ve been attempting to enthuse about some subject related to books, book-selling, collecting, eating–no the last is what I’d rather do instead of thinking about what I’m not writing. Eating a nice big bowl of Campbell’s tomato with basil soup. I nearly passed out when I saw the price of one damn can of soup! How are people surviving? Families? No increase in salary, but food prices keep a’goin on up. I guess others have seen the price of soup climb over the years–they are the ones making the trek to the ‘local’ supermarket–or just market, nothing super there, push a squealing cart in each cramped, can tottering aisle, wait for years checking out behind foreign language screaming kids (which language? Pick one, you’ll hear it in NYC) and then stumble carrying 80 pounds of cat litter, and 15 bottles of soda by the 24 hour fruit market, realizing some oranges would be nice, so pause, put down two of the bags, while navigating around a precarious pyramid of small tangerines, only to find an elbow has dislodged turnips which fall like giant puple raindrops and roll down slanted cement, tripping passerbys, finally coming to rest in the line of traffic. They’re just another casualty in the Naked City. After retrieving kicked deflated bags, oranges idea soured, they play bumper car for the final blocks–‘whoops, sorry,’ ‘hey, watch where your’e going, that was my former eyeball you just poked’, the 5 floor walkup materializes, and the arduous Mt. Everest climb begins until panting and too exhausted to eat, they’ve reached the rarified top floor, sans penthouse.
But that wasn’t me. I had others do the shopping–all 25 odd years in NYC. My 83 year old mother does it here. And the husband, when down from that 5th floor walkup. So, the odd occasion that I am forced to drive a tedious 3 minutes to the 16 block long extravaganza featuring salad bar, wine section, three piece band–or muzak, I am flabbergasted to find that prices have changed since the 1970s when my entire grocery list consisted of Soup for One, bread, bologna, mustard, popcorn–unpopped, oil for the popcorn, and occasionally, Middleswarth potato chips–a monstrous card board tin-size. There are no chips that can hold a salty oil slicked potato to Middleswarth of central PA.
What point was I trying to make? Oh, no ideas for posts. Not true, I have ideas, I have a slew of Best 100 Mysteries of blah blah blah to write up still, I started another Great Coverspost which although could be quite nice, was sounding listless and the pictures wouldn’t sit correctly within the words, they either are smack up against each other, or there is one at the top, tons of writing then the rest clustered around the bottom. Sometimes I spend hours trying to solve the Word Press puzzle until I mentally say screw it, so what if one line starts in the clouds, and continues below the earth’s surface. Not that great an analogy? Is it called an analogy? Or some other English doo dad I should have learned but didn’t way back in high school when Mr. Oppenheimer was discussing Hemmingway, Stephen Crane, and John Steinbeck. Now those three would know if it’s an analogy or symbolism or simile. Or crap writing. Is there any mention of writer’s block among them? And drinking doesn’t count. Maybe that’s the key–alcohol. Only drunks can write–I mean look at all the winos that have written great lit–besides the usual suspects I’ve mentioned (although I think Crane was consumptive, not pickled) let’s not forget Poe, and NO he was not a drug addict, if you don’t count liquor as a drug which no one does even though the Carry Nations have decried it as such for ever and a day. Oh, everyone knows about the alcohol laden writer’s club, so forget that side thought.
But do real honest to god writers ever sit down and stare at the keys, or if say, Shakespeare, stare at the feather tip of his pen? Good grief, what a nightmare it must have been to write all that high-falutin’ incomprehensible rigamarole with only India ink and a quill pen! If Shakespeare did any writing at all, and it wasn’t actually Francis Bacon?, No wait, Bacon spread his cloak across a puddle for Queen Elizabeth–or was the the cigarette–Sir Walter Raleigh?–well I be damned–that’s where Raleigh, North Carolina’s name came from. but what’s the deal with the two name city–Winston-Salem? Two cigarettes in the ashtray, there. Whomever it was wrote ‘a rose by any other name is sweet’ –which by the way-‘Romeo Romeo wherefore art thy Romeo?’ refers to why his name is Romeo! That was an eye opener–I thought she was searching all over the balcony for his tight
clad butt– did the writer ever sit lost not in thought, but thoughtlessness??
From my questions to mystery writers, I’ve not found evidence of a block among them. One writer has a routine that is followed daily, a strict regimen of writing–sort of exercise for the fingers- write write write until time is up. Toweled off, a steam-bath, some bottled water and they’re good to go again. I’ve heard the mantra–always write, even if you can’t think of anything to say, write write write anyway. How does that work? If you’ve nothing to say, what could you conceivably write about? Are you allowed to keep hitting one letter a million times like ggggggggggggg to infinity? Or that fox line a secretary in 1930s movies kept practicing over and over even though we all know she didn’t need to learn how to type–she’ll end up with the boss by the end of the picture. The theory here is that if you just write anything, something good will eventually come out. I’m living proof of this theory being a myth. I’m writing and writing and there isn’t one worthwhile thought in the entire thing.
Lately I’ve noticed a plethora of face book writer friends boasting about their word count. ‘3,000 words in 5 hours.’ ‘Well I’ve written 10,000 in one and a half.’ ’44 chapters finished in five minutes.’ I’m sure this means a great deal personally, but as a reader, I could care less how many words they’ve squeezed out–are those words in the least bit interesting? And if you can say the same thing in half the words, why don’t you? Sometimes, bigger is not better. The length of your chapters does not reflect technique. The larger the words don’t necessarily mean they’ll fill a book. And certainly the faster you write something doesn’t make it more satisfying to the reader. There must be meat to the story, true, but time and finesse is appreciated by those who are on the receiving end.
Yes, I am guilty–this post isn’t really about writer’s block. Unless you count the fact that I can’t think of anything to write. If so, I’ve answered my question. And this post is proof.