Writer’s Block


Writer’s Block

This man just seems to have so many story ideas… (1/2004)

 

Another Friday. Another visit. A visit eerily similar to all of the visits before it.

“You know, Doc, I always hear writers complaining about writer’s block. Not me. Uh-uh. I would kill for it. I’m dying without it,” I say.

“What do you mean?”

“What do mean, what do I mean? I mean that I’m dying here. I need a break, Doc. I’m a mess. I can’t sleep, for one thing.”

“How long has it been since you’ve slept?”

“It’s been four days now. And even then, I only slept about two hours on Monday. I’ve probably slept around ten or twenty hours a week for the past six months. I just can’t take it anymore.”

“Why can’t you sleep?”

“The same reason I tell you every week, Doc. Don’t you listen? What the hell am I paying you for, anyway?”

Doc bristled, but said, “Just tell me why you can’t sleep.”

“Because I can’t shut off my brain, Doc. I just can’t. I try, but I just can’t do it. I’m constantly getting these flashes, these ideas for great stories. I mean, it’s awesome in some ways – I know lots of writers that would kill for getting so many good ideas. If they only knew how hard it is!”

“Go on.”

“Well, I’ll give you an example. I rode the bus over here two weeks ago. You know, that day I told you my car was in the shop. Well, there was this huge fat guy on the bus. He must have taken up three seats across. And he got me thinking about how hard it must be to be that fat. Not emotionally – of course that would be hard. I’m talking about logistics. I mean, everywhere you go, you’d have to make sure that the seats are big enough and strong enough to support you. You’d probably need a special bed made, maybe even some kind of special car. So, I started writing this really awesome piece about a fat guy who lives in Tokyo and how hard it is for him given how crowded everything is. It was hilarious, really.”

“What happened to the piece? Did you finish it?”

“No, I got sidetracked. I mean, my girlfriend – I mean, my ex-girlfriend – she finally left me – I mean I can’t blame her…”

“What about your ex-girlfriend?”

“Well, the day before she left, she was wearing this really sexy outfit. A black miniskirt with a white starched blouse. Lace bra. I mean, she was totally hot.”

“And?”

“Well, I had this idea for an erotic thriller set in Miami Beach, Florida. There’s this bar down there that I remember from college. A total hot spot. Chicks everywhere. I was picturing her being picked up by some guy at the bar, then dancing with him all night. Totally steamy. At first, they’d grind a bit. Then she’d excuse herself and come back from the ladies room having removed her bra, maybe even her panties, handing them discretely to the lucky guy she was with. Some more grinding, fondling, and so on. You get the idea. Then some steamy sex scene around the corner of the bar, along the side furthest from the street, where they’d have sex standing up against the wall. Then I was going to work in this murder scene where –”

“I get the story idea. Sounds interesting. Quite steamy. Quite mysterious.”

I thought I detected a smidge of sarcasm in his voice, but I let it pass. “Yeah, I got about fifty pages out right away. Awesome stuff. I mean I had a hard on the whole time I was writing it.”

“I sense a ‘but’ coming…”

“Yep. Uh-huh. I got sidetracked.”

“Yep. Uh-huh. What was it this time?” Doc asked.

Doc was always asking that. What was it this time? He said it with so much resignation in his voice. Like it was inevitable that there’d be something this time, like the last time, like all the times before. I had started calling him ‘Doc’ almost immediately after I’d first met him, which he didn’t seem to mind. I felt like I needed a doctor to fix my writing problem back then. Still do.

“What?” I asked, not remembering what he’d said or asked.

“I asked, ‘What was it this time?’ just like I always do.”

“It was great, Doc. Pages were flying off like crazy and then… poof… I was at a cold stop.”

“And you don’t remember what happened?”

I did, but I didn’t really want to say. I think he could sense it. He was really good at reading people.

“Well, what happened?” He asked again.

“A singing guitar,” I summarized, feeling like a fool.

“Huh?” Doc asked quizzically.

“Well, I got this really great idea for a Steven King-esque book about a singer-guitarist. He’s really famous and really rich. Then one day, he comes into his changing room before a concert and he hears his guitar singing his songs. The guitar is actually singing the songs! Get it?”

I thought I saw Doc roll his eyes, but I wasn’t sure. So I continued. “So the guy talks to the guitar. You know, asks it what’s going on. And the guitar says that it’s sick of the singer getting top billing. Sick of not getting any billing at all, really. Sick of having to use the lower microphone, while the singer gets to use the upper one.”

“Uh-huh,” was all the encouragement that Doc could muster. Some days, us writer-types just make you want to slit your wrists, I guess. I guess I was one of those guys, and this was one of those days.

I continued. “Well, anyway, the guitar decides to kill the singer guy, thinking that he can take over the entire show. You know, it wanted all the fame and fortune.”

I couldn’t read Doc’s facial expression. Was it… amazement? I thought so, so I continued excitedly.

“So anyway, one of the roadies finds the dead body right before show time. The show is cancelled, of course. The police rope off the dressing room, you know, with that yellow tape stuff they always use and quarantine the room and everything in it. So the guitar gets shoved in its case and thrown in a police evidence locker somewhere. That’s where it miscalculated, you see.”

I began to wind down. “Anyway, that’s as far as I got. The singing guitar is stuck in its case in the police locker, steaming mad, just waiting to get out, desperately wanting to go on stage and wow its adoring fans.”

“Oh, Jesus fucking Christ!” Doc bellowed.

I didn’t know how to react, so I remained silent. Inside my head, however, several new story ideas sprung up, mocking me with their never-ending variety. I had trouble concentrating on Doc’s words.

“What the hell’s the matter with you? Once again, you come in here with a bunch of cockamamie ideas for stories, but not a single one of them is finished. Not a single one.”

“I desperately need a case of writer’s block, Doc.” I practically pleaded.

“What you need,” Andrew said, with as much force as he’d ever said to any of his authors, “is to learn how to finish things.”

“Finish things?”

“Yeah, as in ‘our time is up’”.

I was stunned. “But –”

“But nothing, goddammit. See you next week. And bring something that’s finished or your fired.”

Stunned, I got up and walked out the door. Doc slammed it behind me.

I guess I can understand why he gets so upset. I mean, he’s my agent, not my shrink. It’s not like he gets paid by the hour to listen to my problems, you know what I mean?

Hey, a shrink that doesn’t get paid by the hour, but rather by commission on all of the story ideas he gives his author-patients… now that sounds like a really great story idea…

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