Writer’s block. Seems pretentious to even call it that. It’s not like I’m… Actually, I am. I am a writer. My two ebooks have earned barely $60 in total but, hey, they are mine and, hey hey hey, I got paid for them. But now I am blocked.
My son is a talented writer. And thinker. And story teller. The other day he told me that when you are blocked you need to do something to kickstart yourself right out of there, even if it takes some time. Find out what it is, and then do it. For him, it’s playing video games.
If I did that, I would lose myself. Trust me, as a former addict of the game World of Warcraft, I know. I still dream of being in bear form and knocking the snot out of some big monster while my teammates go in for the kill and others shoot heals my way so I can outlive the monster who is trying to chew my head off. I have a friend from those days who still plays. She posts videos of her guild’s battles on her website and talks excitedly about her latest weapon acquisition, so I can enjoy the game vicariously through her. But I don’t. I don’t even watch the videos. It would hurt too much, in a way, because I can no longer play. I guess that’s partly what makes an addict an addict.
My son and I agree that reading a good book can help unblock the block. I find that to be a lovely and safe choice. Usually.
Right now I am reading Agatha Christie Mallowan’s Come, Tell Me How You Live, kindly sent to me by a friend. It is an accounting of her travels and adventures with her husband, famed British archeologist Sir Max Mallowan, during archeological digs in Iraq and Syria in the 1930s.
If the internet existed back then, Dame Agatha would undoubtedly be tapping away at her blog every day or so–no writer’s block for her!–updating eager readers over tea on her struggles, both mundane and fantastical, ranging from constipation (not hers–she is a true lady, after all) to murder (also not hers, but probably inspiring her fictional works). She would share with her contemporaries the beauty, charm, and magnificence of the Middle East and its people during this interlude between two world wars. As for future readers such as you and I, Christie’s poignant references to Aleppo and Mosul, Raqqa and Beirut, Armenian, Arab, Moslem, and Kurd fall heavy on the heart. But it is a grateful heart, blessed with a glimpse into our own very real world in another very real time. Between those lines, one can sometimes find hope.
Where Dame Agatha’s work is a gentle, cultured read, my son’s recommendations lean toward the wild side. Per his encouragement, I have read a dozen of Jim Butcher’s books in his series The Dresden Files, which follows the adventures of a modern day wizard-detective who turns out to be so much more. Butcher is an incredible writer who blends nonstop action with humor, managing to squeeze in some real character depth while he’s at it. I took a break from the series after finishing volume 12 last spring. I’m still too exhausted to pick up number 13. But I will.
My son is an avid Stephen King fan, as well, so upon his urging I read The Stand. I texted the poor boy for days afterwards about how much I despised, no, DESPISED!!! the ending. I slogged for weeks through a thousand-plus pages for that??? I felt so cheated!!! On the other hand, King sure did manage to elicit a passionate reaction and, for any author, that’s success right there.
Bowing to more of my son’s advice, I read a sneak peak (10 percent of the book) on Amazon of King’s classic horror novel, It. Yes, It is very well written. Inspired, you might well say. But, yikes, Mr. King sure taps into a deep well filled with some very dark stuff. The sneak peak ended (OF COURSE!) with the frightened little wife shaking in her slippers, turning the doorknob to the bathroom where her husband had mysteriously retired… drip drip drip sounds from the other side of the door. Amazon then asked me to buy the book. Instead, I googled spoilers for It and found out what happened without having to get immersed in the remaining 90 percent. Look who’s the cheater now, ha!
You have to be careful what you put into your brain, you know?
Actually, what I think works best to unblock the block, at least for me, is to simply sit and write. Just start. See what pops out, then follow it along until it fades away… end of story. Or maybe not. Go back in a few days and tweak it. Maybe a crazy video game scene will come crashing into a discussion of Agatha Christie who, in a ladylike turn, will toss her tea and shift into a monster out of a Stephen King novel. Oh! Bear form, quick! I’ll kill Pennywise the clown with my bare paws!!! And look! Over 900 words later I have managed to unblock things, at least on the blog front.
Now, back to work on my next little ebook. It will be sweet, a bit on the tame side, but hey, that’s what I know. Heck, maybe I will toss in a little spice… but no clowns. Absolutely no clowns!
(For any interested readers, my ebooks can be found on my Amazon author page, https://www.amazon.com/author/carolevans. If you do pick one up and enjoy it, please consider giving it a review. That is helpful both to search rankings and to author encouragement. Thank you!)