Wednesday, April 13, 2005
On the Difficulties of Writing
The books said, change the writing environment and writer’s block will be catapulted into the violet skies of the absent. The writer took the advice and left her cluttered, document-filled office near the rear of her house to try sitting at the kitchen table with pen and paper, a tiffany lamp swinging above her and a Beta fish swimming round in a bowl next to the icebox. Sugared strawberries sparkling in a plate next to her pet fish, however, taunted her into eating them, the sweet so delicious she licked the porcelain clean and chewed the green leaves at the bottoms of the fruit. The paper remained wordless, red clouds staining the upper corners.
Moving down the hall, the bedroom’s bed offered a place for her to recline and think. She poised the pen inches from the paper. Except, the oceanic candles on the side tables teased her into lighting their wicks and the wool blanket featuring forests of pines convinced her to unfold it. Before long, the lights flickered due to her snoring and the lower corners of the paper got a good blue waxing, wordless still.
The bathroom’s shower then coaxed her in and as the water warmed, she relaxed on the countertop, knees up, paper and pen against her thighs, but still the paper drew nothing from her.
Calm, she told herself. Breathe, she said aloud, let it all flow out of the pen because I am following the book’s recommendations to the letter.
Nothing still poured from the pen.
After soaping and shampooing and rinsing in cold water (she spent far too much time staring at her face in the foggy mirror), when she emerged and faced the paper, the only thing she saw was a glob of dried lavender scrub smack in the center. No words had come whatsoever.
While her hair dried into black curls, the locks their brightest in the sun, their dullest when smashed against cotton pillowcases, she walked into the garden, naked as the day she was born, and sat on a chair. Citrus trees surrounded her, the oranges and limes and lemons rotting on the branches, the scented air sickeningly pungent.
Her dog, a smart beagle named Cocomo, hopped up onto her lap and buried his nose in between her breasts for the briefest of moments, and then began to lap up the scrub, the red, and the blue, right off the paper. He looked at her and panted, happy and smiling as if he’d just eaten chicken on the bone against all the rules.
The paper was blank once again, white and crisp and ready.
The bees buzzed, the flowers flushed, she shushed.
At that point, and at that point particularly, she went to a new place, a place slightly to the right, not left, and easy to the southerly west, inside herself, in her head, bringing forth a 1920’s steam engine pulling an 1842 passenger train which roared towards her house, swung around the corner, and ripped upwards from the bottom of the paper to the top and off.
With a screech that was not to be believed, the train stopped and a man in a purple fedora hat, a velvety black cat suit, and alligator boots stepped off, saying something in a language that no doubt was Portuguese in origin with a hint of Swahili. Exhaling in an exasperated huff, he gave a careless wave of his hand and reached forward gloved, grabbing hands. She was perplexed, but then she saw what he wanted. Without so much as a please, he grabbed Cocomo, turned on his heels, and got right back onto the quickly departing train.
The shock! Of all the soft things to grab, why Cocomo!
The writer immediately jumped up (after an obligatory scream), got on her pinkest, thinnest coat lying lazily on the lounge and took hold of her widest umbrella because the rainy season was coming. She pounced into some rabbit slippers and downed a waiting shot glass of a generic cola soda. The caboose of the train was still about to come through. There was time and she had the impetus.
At last, for Cocomo, she was to embark on the trip of her life, deep into the jungles of her imagination, the only place where one can write, truly. Only then, as she hung on for dear life to the railing of the speeding caboose, could she shake off the writer’s block that had been strangling her for years.