We've been babysitting 3 and 1/2 month old Jude for two weeks now. He is a very pleasant baby--- he wakes up cooing and chattering, his smile melts your heart, he's strong and healthy--- with a healthy appetite to go with the whole package. He's sitting in his bouncy chair watching yet another Sponge Bob cartoon, smiling and waving his chubby little arms, then, all of a sudden, his belly alarm goes off and it is time to eat NOW!!! There is usually not even a buildup, just the holler. Now Katie is trying to feed him on a four hour schedule, but really, when his belly alarm is activated this Grandma rushes to the kitchen to mix up the formula and present it to his hungry mouth. When Katie brought him here he weighed about 19 pounds---- pretty good size for a 3 month old. I fear that when she takes him back tomorrow he'll be closer to 30. I hope not. But my lower back is out of the practice of lifting little ones, so my back lets out a holler right around the time his belly lets out its FEED ME squeal. ( I know, bellies and backs don't holler and squeal, but you get the picture) so I need to sit and hold him while he chomps down. What does this have to do with writer's block, you might ask. Well, as the mother of four children -- a baby showed up about once every three years in our home----I always promised myself that when they were older and didn't always have me on call, then I would get around to the writing I envisioned when I was a young girl. Yes, I am aware that many women manage to turn out novel after novel while raising a brood, but they must have nannies and a very special nap juice they add to the bottles. Or they must have figured out a way to not trap their brain in a bottle. A baby bottle---- less noir writerly than a bottle of whiskey-- but still, held hostage.
I haven't written in more than two weeks--- having the excuse of being with my darling grandson---(I am only writing now because my 19 year old son is playing with Jude). But to be honest, I am full of excuses. I have some good friends who tell me they write every day. It may or may not be literature, but they put words down and tap into that part of their brain. This is a very good idea, a very good plan. But I could have all the good plans and good intentions in the world, but too often I sit, look at the screen and not a single word flows from my fingers. There are times, though, when the words do come and I have to be available to catch them.
A dear friend of mine who writes the most beautiful stories of growing up in West Virginia, has been suffering through a spell of writer' s block. She forwarded a piece of an article that argues that real writers write--- every day, at the same time and they manage to churn out consistent pages. The writer claims this is because of a virtue known as discipline. But, I challenge that assertion. I'm sure it is a good idea to write every day, at the same time, but there are many of us whose brains operate in a less disciplined way, but still manage to string words and stories together to merit the title writer. Maybe we recieve and process information differently, maybe organically or like gathering dust. The words wait. We may become impatient, but the words have to be ready.
So, what about you and Writer's Block? Please join in the conversation and let us know some of your wisdom. Thanks.