Actually, it wasn’t dark. It wasn’t even all that stormy. I’ve just always wanted to start a story that way. To be honest, these days, it’d be nice to start a story at all. I haven’t been able to write the past few months, but not for lack of trying. Fully caffeinated, I’ll put on my lucky writing socks and have soft music playing in the background. I’ll sit down, open a word document, and put my hands on the keyboard, only to have my brain completely stall out. I’ll type a few words, stare blankly at the screen, type a few more words, stare, type, delete, stare some more, delete, delete, delete, give up, go to bed.
I’ve looked for inspiration everywhere, in books and my old journals, on Netflix, and at the bottom of a jar of peanut butter. I immersed myself in nature, exercised, spent time with family and friends, and talked about my feelings. I got a tattoo, got drunk, picked a few fights, and apologized for picking a few fights. I threw caution to the wind and kayaked in the ocean. IN THE OCEAN. I watched all of Game of Thrones season 7, organized my garage, and deep cleaned my house. I even engaged in some sheetcaking, thank you Tina Fey. I laughed and cried and worried and whined. I tried Netflix again. And of course, I’ve tried writing. But still, the page is blank.
I’ve had the will but apparently not the way.
I keep threatening to quit writing, just give it up and move on. That usually goes something like this: “Maybe that part of my life is over. Maybe it’s time for a new hobby. I know! I’ll be an Olympic Snowboarder!” At which point, my husband reminds me that A) I’m not coordinated enough to walk in snow let alone board in it and B) Thirty-seven isn’t a great age to start training to be an Olympic athlete.
“But how do I know if I never try? I might be really good at it!”
“Sure,” he says, “You might be. But you might also die. Either way, I’m filming it.”
Fifteen minutes later, I’m over snowboarding because SNOW IS COLD so back to the laptop where my brain once again shorts out. Then I start thinking about taking up latch hook because maybe I’m good at that. I mean, how do I know if I don’t try?
Life consists of good things and bad things happening in random order, over and over again. Our job is to deal with the bad things the best we can, learn from them, and then move forward so we can enjoy the good things when they come along. My family has experienced a pretty large dose of the bad things lately. My writer’s block is probably a reaction to these things. Writing is how I typically deal with the tough stuff – I find the humor in it and use words to capture and process my experience. I assumed that’s what I would do this time around. But it’s not happening. For the first time, words are failing me. It turns out, there are some things in life so bad that there is no humor to be found in them. There are some experiences that are so intense, I can’t write my way through them. But that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I have to quit. It just means I have to keep trying. Or wait. Or take up snowboarding.