“I’m stuck! I can’t move!” I shouted to the wall. I had sat and stared at the blank screen for ten minutes — or was it ten hours? — and couldn’t come up with anything to write for the February 9, 2011, blog post. This is such a defeating experience. It made me feel impotent, stupid, helpless, inept. To know what is needed and not be able to deliver is enough to make me tear my hair and beat my chest. And almost give up. “Forget it! I’m not going to write any more. I’ll try lawn bowling instead.”
So I walked away from the computer, made some tea, sat on the front porch in the sunshine, and recalled what I suggest to participants in the memoir writing workshops. “Think of a topic, or a person, or a time, an experience. Write it in the center of the page and draw a circle around it. Then randomly write any word that comes to mind about it. Be unrepressed, free, scattered, messy. Just write the words, the facts, descriptions, feelings. This is called clustering. If you want to extend the clustering, you can connect other words to the clustered words and then you are webbing. I think we learned this is seventh grade, but I had forgotten it until recently. It works. You’ll be able to write.”
Instead of clustering, I listed things about which I feel passionate. My grandchildren and their parents, the garden, warm winter days, the new moon, the Corian counters I recently. I stroke them as I would a cat, they are so perfect. I feel passionately grateful for my good health and working joints. Happy I can walk easily with fluidity. I could write about any one of these.
Another recourse is the book, To Our Children’s Children by Bob Greene, available on Amazon. It as 211 pages of story starters.
On Feb 9, I wrote that I couldn’t think of what to write and rambled around until I hit on what was muddling my mind: a friend’s husband had died and I was grieving for her. That was what I felt passionate about that day.