Think of it as a kind of short-term memory loss before the fact. The debilitating effects of a tapped-out, overworked writer-head. Mildly scrambled noggin by blow-to-the-head (see: slamming-of-hatchback-on-cranium). Or sheer, cussed contrariness.
I can see the story’s forest. I cannot see the trees.
And the fact is, the situation is chapping my butt.
I can tell you how the plot moves and turns, all the way to the end. But the stuff that is closest to me is completely invisible. This paragraph. That word. The point that is supposed to fit in somewhere. How good…how weak…how to make it better? You’ve got me.
The open-eyed, sweeping view of a chapter—the holding of it whole in the mind—is one of my favorite things about writing. The view of the whole menu, with the anticipation of the single, well-considered choice ahead, makes the work a joy. But my waiter is refusing to show me today’s specials. Won’t even bring water to the table. All I can see is a big, blank empty space where the next thing should be.
I try to force a crispness of thought into my awareness, a keen edge of analysis. I whip myself into a frenzy of imaginary eagerness that I hope will propel me past the gap and onto the page.
This is not the stubbornness of Muses. It is not the Angel of Better Judgment trying to tell me that I am barking up the wrong creative tree…at least, I hope it’s not that. I know this: I’ve been as dyslexic as hell, lately. I can’t read worth a damn—not even my own words. I am caught in the Mobius Loop between indifference and inability.
Are these misfiring synapses entities of my own making? Is this relentless empty-headedness the product of some temporary physical failing? Is it the occupations of a mildly misspent youth catching up with me at last? Or are the blank space trying to tell me something?
On days like these, I dream of something I have willingly surrendered for now: fiction writing as a full-time occupation, the pursuit with the eases and graces of time built into it. There is no walk on a tree-lined lane in my immediate future. No eagles call to me from the riverbank. I am Antaeus with feet held high off my own sustaining mental earth. I am the author caught in Commerce and the sad awareness that not even having what I want will succeed in giving me what I need.
Welcome to Wednesday.