I don’t think I’ve ever truly had writer’s block before now.
And it’s strange because they all say that you sit there and stare at a blank page and have no idea what word is next. But that’s not what I’ve been doing the past two weeks. I’ve been sitting there and staring at pages of notes, and the notebooks they’re written in, and asking: “What on earth do I work on?”
If writing is like giving birth, then I must be gestating octuplets.
A couple days ago I laid out all my notebooks on my desk, containing all the beginnings and fetuses of stories. I looked at each one, considering what they would all individually require of me and whether or not I really felt like telling that story just now. It turned out to be an exercise in frustration. Instead of gleaning comprehension, I came away with a headache.
Last night I thought I had it. Shortly before going down to bed I hit on an inspiration for the tone and atmosphere of one of my projects, something that had been bugging me with the prose. I quickly wrote it down before it scurried away into the shadows. In the burst of energy and excitement which that had given me I decided firmly that this would be the novel I would work on.
Then later that night, when sleep had teased me for two hours without a consummation, I became deeply interested in the work of Charles Dickens (insomniacs think of strange things when we’re our true selves). Dickens, of course, has always struck me as a master of prose and voice, as he has many others, so I sneaked upstairs to my computer and looked up a list of his novels, thinking which one I’d most like to read next–never mind that I’m currently re-reading the Harry Potter series as well as thinking about starting up another couple of books on the side… I probably won’t get to a Dickens novel any time soon. But that did lead me to a reminder of a word I had heard before: picaresque. Picaresque novels are usually satirical and witty, featuring the adventures of a roguish protagonist as he/she travels. Suddenly I had a more solid framework for another project I’ve had trouble getting a handle on. In a moment of multiple personality disorder (and not schizophrenia, which it is generally confused with) I decided firmly that that would be the novel I would work on.
The illusions melted away like dew this morning when I sat down to work on…well, that was the problem. I did a couple paragraphs in one, made some more notes on the other, and after some more thought during which I become more confused I basically left it at that. I haven’t gone into the writing room since then. Because what had seemed so certain and decisive turned out to be anything but.