A Writer’s Long Block

Every writer has experienced writer’s block. I’ve been walking down the same block for ten years. It’s a hell of a long block. I started my first novel as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) during a time in my life when I only had one part-time job, and was anticipating some dramatic and positive change. I loved working on it. I picked a different coffee shop to write in every day, hit my word count before the end of the month, and was immersed in my own head. I even read what I’d written, lying in bed in a hot, dim room on an island in the Caribbean, and was so captivated that I found myself wondering, ‘Who wrote this?’, forgetting that it was me.

At that point, my characters got stuck. They got stuck on a beach, and I couldn’t figure out what happened next. In reality, I, too, got stuck, blindsided, heartbroken, and set adrift. All my plans for positive changes evaporated in an instant, ironically on that same island where my characters were stuck. I’m no longer stuck there. But my characters still are.

I haven’t touched that novel in ten years. Technically, I have, I suppose, because I picked up the purple plastic folio containing those pages recently, and then filed it in an old oak file cabinet. I’ve started other novels – two, in fact – but the inspiration for one took his own life last year. I’m not sure if I want to keep working on it. I can’t tell if it’s disrespectful or something that he would have appreciated. The other pokes into family ties, and that family would definitely not appreciate it. So, I feel as if I’m blocking myself somehow at every turn. I’m reminded of my college lab rat, Dominic, with whom I tried the classic maze experiments, hoping he was incentivized enough to navigate the maze to find the cheese reward at its end. (Dominic fell victim to some kind of rat flu that swept the lab, killing half the lab rats overnight, God rest his little white furry soul).

Have I no cheese? Nothing but the hope of something self-published to motivate me through the maze of my own writer’s block? Is that enough? I’m envious of my friends who have published essays and poetry in online magazines. They take the time to write and have the courage to face rejection – two of my own failings. Envy is one of my greatest faults.

Definitely some things to ponder as I continue to walk down my writer’s block.

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