Saturday, March 05, 2005

Blockers write without an apostrophe

Another strangeness of writing is the universal temporarily blocked writer shifting into displacement activities, drifting into writerly thoughts completely disconnected from his task which are nonetheless a 'text':

"He could no longer stand to write another word. The familiar mood came over him: a mixture of irritation and an anger he knew, from experience, could lead to a strong desire to break things. Displaced a few steps to the window, he leant his elbows on the high sill, lowering his chin onto his folder hands. At once, as if by some magic his mood shifted because he noticed something. A greenfinch was taking a black sunflower seed from the dispenser he had tied to the dogwood tree, planted many years before for this purpose. What had completely drawn him away from his writing concerns was his recognition the bird, rather than taking the seed away to eat it, was turning and opening the seed in its beak as it stood on the perch. He remembered the more frequently visitors, the blue-tits and great-tits, had to hold the seeds with a foot in order to open them. Further, he remembered - thought it had not occurred to him before while watching these familiar visitors - finches had a beak specially designed to do just such a trick. The tits' more pointed beaks might, he guessed, be less specialised and confer other advantages.

In a flash he saw - a mixture of pleasure and relief - he had been taken right out of himself but was, in this recognition, returning to the frustration-mode that had stopped him typing. While now seeing a fast-forward of everything running through his mind's eye, he also had something else: putting aside thought of finishing the dialogue sequence he set himself as task of the day in favour of an impromptu essay, which - though a distraction from this designated task - would surely benefit him in the long run? Was writing always to be a time-limited chore which gave no real pleasure in execution? He thought of the number of times he had come to know the mentation preceeding the writing was the best part of the creativity: almost film-like. Sometimes he could consciously make himself into a editor with the editing-machine whirling in front of his mind's eye. From time to time he took up segments of film and reviewed them, one after the other, perhaps removing a few superfluous frames, splicing two pieces together: all the while aware of the totality of the text he was trying to formulate in the film he was imagining."

The block is not comprehensive. It is possible to write, but not his novel. So he choses to write this fragment down. Then he might begin to think about how there could be a way of incorporating it into the novel he hopes he is only temporary incapable of writing.


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