Thinking Outside The Block

Writers-Block2It’s the chair’s fault I can’t write. It’s an absurd choice! The seat is so high my thighs cut into the little, pine desk. Clearly the absolute idiots who paired this duo (my parents) had no idea anyone would ever do anything important here. Like start a novel.

I drag in chairs from other rooms, chuck them in front of the desk and thrust my bottom on for a test drive. Something in the cut of each one irritates me. I finally settle on a pink wing chair, another piece of ridiculous bedroom garnish! It’s the right height, but has such a sloped back, I can’t reach my shitting computer keys. ‘What the bloody fuck!’ I scream, lying back repeatedly to show ‘The Room’ the moronic design.

I charge off for a cushion to plug the black hole between my back and the chair. The plumpness must be exact and no itchy embroidery… The first, auditioned, is a blue, satin square, so puffed up and proud of itself, it nearly pushes me off the seat. The next is so limp, it rolls down into a hard, little turd of material that pushes at the base of my spine.

Fourteen cushions later, I’m ready to start my novel.

I sip my coffee. It’s now gone cold. I trudge downstairs to nuke it in the microwave, pushing it past its optimal temperature, as I sense there may be a few more delays before the Muse and I pull out of the station. Hot coffee is an essential part of the story. The story of ‘Writing’, not the story I’m actually writing. That one doesn’t exist yet.

Back at my computer, Microsoft Word invites my first word…

Wait. Am I hot? My boobs feel sweaty. That feeling of hot clammy skin resting on more hot clammy skin, is really only acceptable as part of a holiday romance. I go to my bedroom and get my bra. As I do, I see my cigarettes, and remember I’m a smoker. My first cigarette of the day was supposed to be a reward for capturing at least two thousand words of truth about the human condition. I imagined pulling out slow drags, tired from keeping up with the energetic cast of characters all showing me, in perfect unison, where they needed ‘our’ story to go.

I have a fag and it provides an unhelpful, five-minute window to again ask the question of whether I really am, ‘A Writer’. With the answer a resounding, ‘probably not’, I go back upstairs and tap out my first word, ‘The’. I press the space bar. It’s sticky (probably the toast and honey). Now, rather than enjoying the reward of crunching the space bar, in horrid parallel to the voice in my head, my computer also seems to be resisting my prose.

My next word is ‘boy’. I sit back and look at my story so far. There’s something ugly about it. I look again… It’s in Arial! No one has ever done anything creative in Arial.

I spend ten minutes searching for a more literary font, something with flair, but space, playful but economic, something to match the style of my prose. With ‘Century Schoolbook’ complimented with the task, I retype my first two words again. Just as I do the Sun floods my room, turning my screen into a mirror and giving me another opportunity to take a long hard look at myself. I’m now too disheartened to bother trying to interpret it as a ‘good sign’ – Mother Nature waking up for the magic about to happen in this tiny room in the Cotswolds.

It’s that horrible light of school assemblies, the kind that streams in from high windows, exposing the rolling dust in the air and stains on your wool skirt. It reminds me of school, and reminds me I am someone who once came bottom in English class. I want to cry. I pull the blind down and face my first two words again. I wait for the next… It should probably be a punchy verb, but the only words coming are the adjectives, ‘dull’, ‘simplistic’ and ‘obvious’. None of these are meant for my story.

Then I do cry. If I can’t write then I’m not ‘A Writer’, so what am I meant to do with the rest of my life? Forget my life, what about the rest of my day. It’s 9.02 am, the day after Boxing Day, I’m staying with my parents, and I just know what this day could be like.

I’ll pace the tiny house, open my nostrils out onto windows and watch people pass by through the blur of my breath. I’ll flit from channel to channel, watching working actors (another possible calling) delivering the lines of paid writers, sitting on the kind of sofa that folds your gastrointestinal tract in two. Every half an hour I’ll wander into the kitchen to break off another nib of carrot cake. Just to push the door too on existential hell, without spending too many calories on it. Without an interest in crochet, Monopoly or helping out around the house, I’ll do the only two things left, a long walk and an even longer wank.

I am about to shut down and head for the carbs, when I’m struck I have a choice. As painful as it is to admit I don’t have a lot to say about a young boy born into military nobility in Medieval Japan, I do have at least a thousand words on chairs.

I park the story I was going to write and I write this instead.

Turns out it’s more than just a rant on chairs.

So those books on becoming ‘A Writer’ might just be right. First you sit down and then you write. What comes, you may have little control over, but write it anyway. Write and write through it.

It may not be the beautiful tale of a Samurai warrior overcoming both his past and his enemy to find out who he really is, but in its own little way, it just might be.



  1. reneerogers01 says:

    Fab Em as always! xx

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