Breaking Up An Iceberg With A Toothpick

……Is Hard To Do

(Writers Block)

You know that feeling when the words are tumbling out of you and you’re typing so fast because you’re raining dialogue, you’re percolating scenes and stomping exits and slamming doors and people in your head are yelling at you to hurry up – they’re waiting to get on stage. (…Okay, this could be a fantasy…)

And that’s only happened to me when I’m at writing retreats and I’ve paid money to show up and have actors read my scripts. But I swear, it has happened. I’ve had dreams where characters are chasing me like some kind of Twilight Zone episode and they’re trying to catch up to me to get to me to have their last say in the script I’m writing. I don’t mind that kind of scenario. I’d rather have that, then the Siberian exile I’m living in now.

Yeah, that island I’m living in now is called Writers Block. I know a lot writers have lived there, or had to visit. There are lots of life issues at play here: a family member is battling with cancer, my husband and I are dancing with unemployment and financial dread, and my life seems smaller and less assured.   What else.  My beloved Abyssinian cat is very ill and I know I love him too much in a way that people who own Abyssinian cats do. It’s a cult thing.

I guess it started with an unhealthy attachment to my last script. I loved it. I still do. Maybe you’re not supposed to love an unproduced script. Hell, it’s still out there, circling the zip codes.

But after I sent the script out I stopped writing. Six months of not writing was called “a break”. A restful pause. Refueling. A blank page. But then a series of life earthquakes happened and the writer’s block stayed.

So I teased the white fog to other names: Block head. Gnawing doubt. A log jam of inability. Did I fall out of love with writing? Did I use up all I had to say?

When I was a young actor, I played Eve in a production of “The Apple Tree” in Boston and worked with a very talented opera singer. He would save himself during rehearsals, barely coasting through the score and script, but then, eventually, gave an incredible performance in front of the audience. I thought he cheated the rehearsal process; but he shared, what was for him, a important part of his technique. “Darling,” he said, “God only gives us so many high notes; and I’m going to spend them with the audience, and not in the rehearsal room.” I might have thought he was selfish and a little precious, but I have to say, that technique really worked for him. He sang the role of Adam like an angel.

I’ve often wondered if there isn’t a part of my writer’s brain that is a little bit like his Adam. That it needs to get what it needs to write, and then –  it just turns off. I’m done. I’m tired of your stressful, fussy life. I’m tired of you giving the cat shots twice a day. I’m tired of the invisible cancer in the house, and the checkbook and the migraines and the grinding teeth.  So my brain just says:  I’m not writing.  Just not.  Just make me.

So I’ve been doing some “inspirations” to try and lure my curious self back into writing mode: meditation class, venturing out to see a couple of plays through LAFPI, embarking on a mannequin project, infusing vermouth. Getting engaged in something with my mind and hands has helped. Starting my writers group again will be a bit of trial when I really do not feel like writing at all, which I suppose,  is the point. Writing on this Writer’s Blog is supposed to be part of breaking the iceberg.  I don’t know that I can do this.  I will try.

And we’ll keep giving the cat his shots twice a day. That’s just part of the deal.

3 Comments

  • By Diane Grant, October 25, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    I hear you! I’m having the same horrible hiatus, which may not be a hiatus at all but a dead stop.

    I don’t know how to begin again and sometimes don’t even know if I want to.

    Diane

  • By Nancy Beverly, October 29, 2010 @ 8:14 am

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂 It’s a tricky balance between honoring the energy of the moment (sick folks, ill kitties) and honoring yourself as writer. Forcing things? Not always a good solution. I was stuck for weeks on a script problem recently and then had a day of jury duty. That day NO ONE in the entire room got called up (lack o’ trials?) and so I sat for many hours with tablet and pen, and the solution to my end of Act I problem came to me — probably because my brain had that much time and space stretched out in front of it. Who knew jury duty would be my doorway? Anyway, good thoughts to you and no judgments ’cause we’ve all been there 🙂

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  1. LA FPI » Interview with Playwright Cynthia Wands — April 15, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

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