Discovering the Relevance of Words
Dear Michael Ondaatje –
I love your writing, but right now, I do not like you at all. For the last week I feel as if I’ve been starting at the computer screen, in some vapid attempt to figure out what the hell I want to write. I’ve been angry at myself for not just sitting down to type. I’ve been frustrated that in all the events of the last week – school ending, students graduating, surgery – I’ve really not placed anything of merit on the page. Sure, I’ve tweeted a bunch, written a few emails here and there, and jotted down a few notes for maybe some future pieces, but writer’s block grabbed my brain, and twisted it dry like a wet towel.
And now I see this quote by you, and it aggravates me to no end. But hey, you did your job, right? I’m writing something. I suppose you proved your point. This must be my “other scene.” Thanks. Yep. I appreciate that.
That being said, is it really that easy? Do you really just move onto another scene, and not worry about what you were trying to say? You’re an author of novels, not poems, not short stories, not haikus. Other scenes take lead-ups, and outlines, and knowledge of events. Right? Don’t they? Do you have that much of an understanding of your own plots that you’re able to simply scene jump?
Writer’s Block is a tricky little bitch. Each year I just tell my students that when they can’t think of something to write, they should write the line I cannot think of what to say over and over again, until their brain gets so angry with them that it kicks out some words. For some of them, this works really well. It doesn’t do the same for me. It never has. It’s a do-what-I-say-not-as-I-do tactic. For me, I just have to wait it out. I have to simply stare at the empty page until I feel as if I can improve it.
So, Michael, how do you do it? How do you just go on? Is there a trick I should be following?
Just Another Writer With No Words To Write