My Dearest Writer’s Block:
Look, I know we’ve been through a lot together, and those were some great times. Like, “That Summer.” You know that one I mean. Haha! Do I need to say more? That was the best time in our relationship. It was the summer of ’06, and was writing that book…on, what was it? Oh, who cares. I never finished it…and if we’re honest, I never really started it… We were so hot and heavy. How could we possibly forget?! It was just you and me at the library all day–every single day.
We’d hang out in the private study rooms, pretending we were working…but really…haha! You’d tell me what a great writer I was, and how the idea I had was so unparalleled in modern literature. I’d feel so important sitting there with my laptop, as if I were an accomplished writer. You and I we’d sit and dream of fancy cocktail parties, and witty, sophisticated friends. Oh…those days.
We never did anything…on the computer that is…I’d write a couple of sentences, and then we’d get hungry. We’d go across the street to the mall and get a bite. We’d browse through Barnes and Noble and look at all the books other people had written. You’d tell me how I could so easily write one of these, it wouldn’t be hard. In fact, the book I was writing was right on par with any of these.
“The world isn’t ready for what you’ve got,” you’d say.
“Well..” I blushed modestly, wanting to believe you.
After a couple hours, we’d go back to the library, where we’d hang out again. You’d tell me the three sentences I wrote earlier weren’t any good. It’s great to have those kinds of friends in your life. People who will be honest with you. So, I’d delete them, and you’d sit silently, while I’d try to come up with better ones. You were always so modest, never wanting to interfere with my thoughts. But, making sure I knew you were there, a strong and supportive presence.
Eventually, after a couple of months, and a few dozen mediocre pages, you told me what I needed to hear most. I should get a job. Or, was that the phone company? I don’t remember. But, like all great relationships, even though we didn’t have time to spend together anymore, I still knew you were there for me.
Then, there was that awful summer of 2008…you know the one I’m talking about. Yeah. I told you I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you. But, what can I say? I was a receptionist, at a boat dealership, during the recession.
I was weak. I cheated on you. There. I said it. It’s true. I mean, I didn’t have anything else to do. I read like five books the first month! What was I supposed to do? I’m a writer, and I had nothing to do but hang out with Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde all day! I’m only human! So, I wrote that short story…well, it was really more of a novella, and it was great. It was really…oh, I’m sorry, that’s so insensitive of me. I’ll quit talking about it.
Yeah, that was a low point in our relationship. We took a break for a while after that. You quit calling. I didn’t know where you were. I talked about you all the time. “He’s gone,” I’d say over, and over as I wrote poetry and a couple magazine articles. I’m so sorry. To hear about how I was calling magazines and e-mailing editors must have been so hard for you. But, I’m just trying to be honest about our relationship here. This is what happened. I can’t change the past.
But, then when I got a new job, and things started changing. We got back together. I was too busy to write, and you came back. Forgiveness is sweet. You told me I shouldn’t expect to work in a stressful job for forty hours, and then come home and be able to write. I needed to watch The Real Housewives instead. I earned a break. Besides, the people that write these shows, they have more time than me. I’m young. I hadn’t hit my prime. I didn’t “have” the story. Why force it? You can’t force creativity. Everyone knows that! Besides, if I didn’t take that downtime, I’d be a mess at work the next day. And, once I’d worked enough to save up some money, then I could take some time off and really write. There would be no pressure. Right now, though, it just wasn’t the “right time,” for me. You were right. How could I have ever done without you?
Over the next few months, we really worked on healing our relationship. I was busy, job hopping, and trying to write, and you and I hung out a lot after work. Remember those weekends in the coffee shops? Gosh, we must have hung out in every coffee shop and bookstore in town that year. Those were some great times. I was making money those days, so we’d go to restaurants and have cocktails. We’d start at the bookstore, and then buy books, and then ditch the laptop in the car and go shopping instead.
You reminded me that all the great writers said people-watching helps. So, we’d go to the mall and try that, but it was never any fun. We’d go get smoothies instead. We got really fit, if I remember correctly. We went running all the time. Two or three times a day. I’d try to think up ideas, and you’d tell me I needed to pace my writing, just like I paced my body. You’d remind me of how I used to write poetry. You’d tell me once I got home and showered, I should write poetry about running. But, of course, we were such great friends, we could never stop and write poetry.
Which brings me to when it got really serious. These were the sad days. I started writing professionally. Those were the days you and I fought. Oh, the arguments. The screaming. The day I threw the notebook out the window. The things we said to each other. I can’t even repeat them. You really hurt me those days. You told me I would never be a real writer. I told you were just trying to keep me down. No, you said. I’m serious. This is realistic. Look, you said, as you pointed to a screen full of bland words. Is this your beloved Oscar Wilde? Oh, how I cried.
We fought and fought. You told me I was too busy to write, and that I was being selfish by shortchanging my other responsibilities. I insisted you were wrong. I was destined to be a writer. I churned out article after article, all the while totally ignoring your words of advice. Hundreds of articles I wrote, and you got madder and madder.
You told me to give it up. It wasn’t meant to be. I ignored you. I was so intent, and I know I neglected our relationship, but my work was so important to me. For the first time, I had people regularly paying me to write! Couldn’t you understand how important that was? I know you and I were disconnected, but I promised that as soon as my life slowed down, we could talk again.
“Things are just so crazy right now,” I said. “I’ve got deadlines, and goals. I can’t stop. When things slow down…we can go back to being…us.”
Sometimes you’d remind me of those days in the library over, “That Summer.” I’d pull out the old files, stale printouts and dusty books, and look over them. It would be just like old times. We’d have a few minutes together, but then I’d have to get back to work. I just felt like I had moved on. And, I think you knew it too, deep down, even though you wouldn’t admit it.
So after about a year, you dealt your final and deadliest blow. Gosh this is so hard to write. You called me a corporate internet writer. I wasn’t a real writer. I was just an imposter, churning out drivel for the Internet. That was the hardest to take, because deep down, I knew you were right.
“Well,” I protested, “Oscar Wilde bored himself writing product reviews for a magazine to make ends meet, before he published anything.”
You scoffed. “Really? Oscar Wilde? Let’s recap here. Your latest article is called ‘How to Become an Office Assistant,’ and before that you wrote, ‘How to Find Free Moving Boxes,’ and let’s never forget your high point, ‘Understanding the GRE,’ ….you never even took the GRE!”
“Well, I could…”
“That’s not my point. My point is…you are hardly Oscar Wilde. You are a useless internet ‘writer,’ if you can even use that term to describe yourself, I don’t even know. You get paid, what…$15 per article? Come on. Oscar Wilde, please.”
I tried to protest, but I knew you were right. You’re always right, and I hate that about you. Then you said the worst.
“Besides, you’re not so young anymore. You should be past this stage of your career. Give it up. It’s not going to happen!”
I remember doubling over in pain at those words. You were so right. I was getting older. I was no longer a 22 year old college graduate working my way up. I was now a 28 year old unsuccessful writer, who couldn’t even afford her own place. After that, I was haunted by birthdays, calendars and even clocks. Time was ticking away. My career, however, was only slowing creeping along, at the pace of 500 words on, ‘What a Professional Typist Does.’ Must stay positive, I said. Must stay positive.
But the damage had already been done. You had infected my mind. Then you said if I didn’t listen, you’d destroy what fledgling little career I had. I defied you and pressed on…but you won…one by one you shriveled the life out of every word I wrote.
Those were the dark days. I remember trying desperately to hold on, but out of jealousy, you sucked my career down. Why? Why did you do that to me? What did I ever do to you? We had been so close. I can’t even…I can’t even…
Yeah, we got back together again. But, it wasn’t the same. There was a coldness between us. I couldn’t even look you in the eye. And from time to time, I heard you mutter ‘useless internet drivel.’ We lived together another year or so.
Then I bought that book. I know I was being spiteful and mean. But, after everything, I just felt like it was getting too complicated between us. I just needed some time to think. The book was called 90 Days to Write Your Novel.
In the middle of the night, while you were sleeping, I snuck out and worked the exercises. You never knew. Or maybe you did, I don’t know. Maybe you just didn’t even care anymore. It was good for a while, but I got tired of sneaking around. I wanted to bring our relationship out into the open. I wasn’t there the day you found out about the book. But whatever you said, it never talked to me again. It wouldn’t return my calls, or e-mails.
And so, I went back to you for about six months, and we had a spiteful relationship. It was a long and cold winter. I remember so many tears during those January and February days. There were tears of regret, shame and pain. You said you loved me and just wanted the best for me, but it didn’t feel that way. I just felt your icy cold draft run shivers through my spine.
“Other people need you,” you said. “You don’t need to be hooked to a computer all day. You need to be in the real world. Where the people are.”
“But, I’m writing things for the people,” I said.
“No, not really. Fiction? Come on! It isn’t even real! It only exists in your imagination. You’re not five anymore. Aren’t you a little old to play pretend? Meanwhile, there are real people you are ignoring. And the real people will like you better if you’re successful.”
“But, if I work hard enough I will be a successful writer.”
You laughed softly. “I hate to tell you this, but you’re too old now. You won’t ever be successful at writing. And, you’d better hurry, or you’ll be too old to be the ‘pretty young thing’ behind the front desk—which is the only other thing you’re qualified to do. I only tell you this because I love you. The truth hurts.”
Then you announced you were going away for the summer. You know the worst part of it was? I didn’t care. I really didn’t. Because while you were gone, I wrote. I wrote, and wrote and wrote. And people liked it. They really do. As a matter of fact, I wrote the first half of a novel. Totally without you. Since u been gone
And, now, you expect, after all of that, you want to move back in? You know, what? It’s over. After all the lies, the cheating, the fights, It’s time for a new start. Goodbye Writer’s Block…it’s been…real?
(And P.S. Publishers like my work!)