I’m stalled, stuck, stopped. This doesn’t usually happen. When participants in the Memoir Writing Workshops ask, “What happens if you can’t think of anything to write, “ I blithely advise, “So write about that. Write about not being able to write. If you don’t want to write that, write about something you feel passionate about.” And so, as an example of how to combat writer’s block, here I go!
I feel passionate about a lot of things. My grandchildren and their parents, the garden, warm winter days, the new moon, the Corian counters installed in December. 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.
Maybe that’s why I’m stuck: health, having it and not having it. Sunday I visited a friend who was sitting by her husband in the hospital. He had various tubes running into and out of him. He breathed forced oxygen. He had lost so much weight, only his frame was there, under the sheets. He seemed to be sleeping, full of pain medicine and sedatives, breathing in and out, in and out behind the oxygen mask that covered half his face, and to me looked uncomfortable. His wife and I sat and chatted and drank tea. She seemed resigned to the fate of her husband. “Tomorrow the oxygen mask will be removed and he’ll have a reduced oxygen flow through tubes in his nose. He doesn’t want that oxygen mask,” She said. “This morning he tried to rip it off. He says he doesn’t want to go on living like this.” She seemed so brave.
This morning, my friend called, “I hope I’m not calling too early. Are you awake?” I was. “Yesterday afternoon, he died. It was peaceful. Do you want to know what his last words were?
“Yes,” I said, “tell me.”
“He held my hand and asked, ‘Who won the Super Bowl?’”
This is an example of a first draft when we don’t know what we will write about. First the admission of “I don’t know.” Then noodling around until something clicks. And finally writing it. The piece looks disjointed – because it is! It’s a process on paper (or for some, on the screen).
The second draft might focus on writer’s block only. Or solving writer’s block. Or go directly to the story of my friend’s husband. The second and third drafts would be more focused, more detailed, more sensate. To demonstrate, I’ll rewrite this for my next post.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about your own struggles and solutions with writer’s block.