Sunday afternoons are often spent writing my upcoming blog. Sometimes, if all is flowing smoothly, I get two or three blogs out and scheduled for their respective Wednesdays.
Today, however, for the first time since I began this blog a year ago, I can’t think of a thing to post. My big resolution — no, I’m calling them determinations or some such — to blog faithfully each Wednesday is crashing ingloriously at my feet. My brain feels useless; I get ideas, then discard them almost immediately for one reason or another. Can’t find a deleted scene I want to share. Can’t seem to think of anything remotely resembling cultural differences. Can’t think of what to write.
Is this what people call writer’s block?
I’ve read about writer’s block, but I’ve never actually felt that I suffered from it. Give me a blank piece of paper and I’ll fill it every time. No problem. So, I thought perhaps I’d try that today.
Just for kicks.
How am I doing so far?
It’s like the early days of my journaling life; I sometimes just wrote, “so, I must keep the pen moving for twenty minutes, that seems like a really long time, and I’m not sure I like that. Feels a bit pushy, annoying really. I am feeling annoyed. I wonder who I’m mad at about it….” And I was off.
This is what I’m hoping will kick in.
Any time now.
Anything yet? No. Nothing.
I’ll keep going.
We’ve been having a bit of a cold snap up here in the Northeast Kingdom. I know most of the country is in the grips of it. I was talking to Assem, one of my Kazakh colleagues, this morning and she mentioned she’d heard of our cold snap. Folks there were worried for us, she said.
“Not to worry.” I told her. “It’s nothing like Kazakhstan. People in America don’t know what cold really is.” And she laughed.
I’m terribly amusing to the Kazakhs. I like that about them. I make them laugh.
They think I’m funny.
A lot of people think I’m funny, actually. I hear that a lot and I’m always surprised. Funny? Me? I don’t remember saying anything funny. And I don’t think of myself as a comedienne.
I can’t tell a real joke, for example, to save my life.
The best joke I ever told (the only joke I ever told where I didn’t mess up the punch line) was the one about the prison inmate:
He was new in the prison and he noticed that at lights out, he’d hear, one at a time, different inmates holler out a number, seemingly at random.
“Seventeen,” one would call from the cell across the way.
And the other inmates would laugh.
“Forty-two,” shouted another. And it too was met with chuckles.
And so it went until the wee hours and the guys finally drifted off to sleep.
He asked his cohorts about it at breakfast the next morning.
“Ah. Well. Them’s jokes.” One guy explained. “Yeah. We’ve got them all catalogued. That way, we don’t need to spend all that time with so many words.”
“Yeah,” said the guy next to him. “Warden’s real strict about quiet after lights out.”
And they told the new guy some of their jokes.
So, the next night, he was eager to try his hand.
“Forty-two,” he called out, remembering the hearty laughter he’d heard the night before.
But all he heard was silence. Deafening silence.
Not a single chuckle in the entire prison.
So, the next morning, as he’s sitting at breakfast, he asked about it. “What happened? How come I didn’t get a laugh?”
“Well, your timing was off.”
And that’s my 500 words. My blog for Wednesday, January 8, 2014.
See? Writer’s block is just a state of mind, a boundary between being a writer or being an aspiring writer.
And crossing boundaries is one of my favorite topics.
Next week, Shirley Hershey Showalter, the author of the recently published memoir Blush, will be here to talk about her journey crossing from one subculture to another in
A Little Fish in a Mennonite Sea
Here’s a brief excerpt:
Some people swim contentedly in the sea they were born into. Some leap like salmon and plunge upstream or even jump into a different pond. And some keep following their own stream to the place where it joins the ocean.
I hope you’ll join us.
In the meantime, have you faced writer’s block? If so, how have you faced it?
And, if you don’t like that question, did you at least like my joke?
It could be my timing.