Lately I have been somewhat stymied by writer’s block. Not in all my writing, just with my fiction stuff. It happens sometimes and I don’t take it too seriously. I give it a break and work on other things. And when I’m back, I’m usually better for the time off.
A few days ago, I had a third surgery on the same tooth in three years. The patient refuses to get better or die quietly. So the Oral Surgeon is using heroic measures to save it. He is more tenacious than I would be. All I can think of is that scene in “Castaway” where Tom Hanks uses an ice-skate for his dental work. I should be grateful, right? Swollen cheek and a rack of stitches in my gum is pretty minor compared to that. But pain tends to focus the mind and good ideas are starting to come out again. I’m ready to write. Or more accurately, I am writing again.
Writer’s block is one of those strange events that happens to all writers, and in many forms. For me, it is not so much not being able to write at all. I’m always able to put words on paper, but the words that come out are trash and uninspired. I read back over what I’ve written and cringe. It just sucks. I’m not really sure if it is actually that bad. Maybe it’s just my perception of my own writing that sucks. Or I’m just being ultra-critical of my own work. Anyway, I don’t like it, and I can’t keep writing, so I stop. My real problem is that my objectivity is gone, my love of the work is on vacation.
I’ve learned not to push during these times, but also not to wait too long either. A week is a break, two weeks is an extended vacation with nagging guilt about piled up work, a month is a layoff delivered from an angry boss, and anything over a month is just self-pity. And nothing is as ugly as self-pity. Work is always the solution to unemployment.
Ever try meditation? It works wonders for anything involving self-fill-in-the-blank. The ideas tend to come when they’re not forced. Like playful kittens, run after them and you will never catch them, but dangle a string and they’ll grab on like the living Velcro strips that they are. Meditation is dangling the string. One’s goal is to stop thinking, to quiet the mind. Of course the mind hates that and starts laying out all kinds of goodies at the altar. Well, if you’re going to offer such treats, it would be rude not to taste a few. So pretty soon I’m writing again and everything is good.
As for the tooth, I’ve almost forgotten it’s there. Almost.