Saturday, May 05, 2007

Dry Well

Sometimes, I just can't get it going. No matter how much I want to write, I just become a wall. There are lots of ways to look at it.

I'm working on something right now, and I can't work on it. Every time I approach it, I go blank. Leslie Marmon Silko calls these stillbirths. I could put it on the shelf, like I have tons of other writings that ran out of steam, but this one seems important. The block isn't because there's nothing there, but because there's too much there. I can feel it, like a knot under the skin, wanting to be released.

When I was a student at a community college, there was a creative writing instructor there whom I just despised. I felt that he had no inclination to teach or nurture his students. His primary face was that of arrogance. Anyone who knows me understands that arrogance is an unforgivable sin with me. I just can't stand it. But I can be arrogant with the big boys myself. It's a manifestation of fear. Anyway, this instructor did me a couple of good turns, in spite of his efforts not to. He introduced me to Henry James. Who would I be without James? And he said that thing about getting to the real story. What he said was this:

No one can ever get to the real story. There's always a story underneath the one you're telling that you can't get to.

Be it through fear, self-delusion, denial, we can't get to the real story. Well, I became determined, dedicated to always try to get to the real story, to be unflinching in the face of my fears, to pick at my denials and to look at things once I put them down and try to tickle out the meat.

I don't know if I've succeeded. But I've always tried.

Now, with the short story in question, The Recipe, I can't seem to shake anything loose. It's all too knotted up. Maybe if I took up running. No, I have to lose 35 pounds first. Can't take that much time. Maybe if I stick my head in the river. No. Headache. Maybe if I deprive myself of WoW. Now, we're getting close. How long could I possibly go without playing WoW?

1 comment:

David said...

That's interesting. I've often had the opposite problem: I write lots of words and then hit a wall when I realize that I don't really know what story I'm trying to tell, so I have to stop and back off and think about for a while, to try to dig the real story out.