Writer’s block, A.K.A the bogey man
He lurks behind a milk curtain, morse-coding reprimands and insults with my own cursor. Six dots and a jarring ‘Oh!’ (The exclamation mark is implied).
“It’s you again,” he says. “Did you know that your last idea for a plot was terrible? It was worse than terrible. It gave me migraines in my stapes, and I don’t even have stapes. Where are you taking that wretched creature? That ‘character’, as you name him? Preferably somewhere to die. Because that’s where he’s headed if you start typing – right into the grave. He’ll be pushing up digital daisies before bedtime and you’ll be ten thousand words in the red. Just like I told you.”
This time I ignore him. I launch a four-syllable broadside into the first line. Fast and true. Then I add another, which pours into another. This goes on for several cups of black tea and one protein bar. Time has been reduced to calories and words, and the sweat underneath my wrists is a new dimension unto itself. I read the text back to myself, knowing fully well that’s just what he wants.
“How does that fit in with anything? Have you checked your email in the last three minutes? This reads too much like that other novel. Who do you think you are? If you hurry you might make it to the hardware store. They sell ceramic tiles there. To beat your head upon.”
He’s right you know. I absorb. I breathe prosaic pleonasms. It’s my atmosphere.
Chewing on the lid of a lost pen I bash out some more, skittle that cursor across the ebony lake with long-winded fossils from my days of poring over English case law.
The bogey man sighs. He’s the boss at the end of the game to end all games. A million hit points. A billion. No matter what you hurl at him – magic, fire, steel, cranberries – that thin, red bar doesn’t recoil one pixel and you’re scouring Amazon and writers’ forums looking for a cheat.
‘Hero’s Journey’ – sounds tops.
‘How to Grow your Novel’ – grand.
‘Writing for Dummies’. Hey, you said it, bro.
“That delete key’s not going to hit itself, you know ” says the bogey man. “I’ve got places to be. Brains to blend. Do you know how many struggling writers there are whose pipes I have to clog before midnight? And they say Santa Claus has the monopoly on split-second logistics. I’m stuffing so many stockings full of neuron-choking tittiness and non sequiturs that it’s hard to stay sane. Oh yes, and NO ONE has been nice this year… especially not YOU!”
I write over the squall of abuse. Nonsense words peppered in between names and places and hyphens and full stops. Nothing fits together. Nothing is right.
And then I remind myself that nothing has to fit.
Everything can be wrong.
And the bogey man vanishes in a wisp of pedantry.