Curse of the Artist

If there’s ever a time that’s most frustrating to me, it’s those periods when you experience what I define as writer’s block.

You sit at a computer, opening up a new word doc or blog posting shell to type whatever sanguine, existential thoughts pop into your tired and academically-abused brain. You’ve been reading an interesting book for most of the day, so that inspires you to write something in a similar vein.

You type the first sentence:

He stood on the precipice, his rifle arm aiming the belligerent weapon accusingly at the

You stop, finding you’ve hit a bit of a brick wall. What’s he pointing his overly-large and compensatory firearm at? Why is he pointing it at anything? Will this be explained later or will it be deliberately left vague?

You return to the typing.

accusingly at the giant space bug that had taken residence inside his girlfriend’s ear.

You stop once again. That’s shit. You can’t use that for your 3000 word end of year assessment, unless you particularly feel like experiencing the sting of cold, pitiless failure and another six months to make up the difference in unit achievement. So you erase the line, and try again.

accusingly at the drug-dealing child pornography kingpin, who stood nearby laughing heartily and twirling his long moustachios with both hands.

No, too depressing and evil. You don’t quite want to sink to that level of human despair quite so quickly.

accusingly at the henchman of his final target, who was under suspicion by the cops of being a drug-dealing child pornography kingpin.

Much better.

It’s at this point that you realise you’ve spent nearly two hours trying to work out this sentence’s conclusion. And you’ve got another few hundred thousand left to finish your story properly. And if one takes that long, you really can’t be assed.

So you go back to that blog posting shell you opened earlier, and write an attempt at a witty post describing your frustrations at being unable to write anything substantial fiction-wise. You think maybe writing out a section of your text may stoke the embers of that dying creative fire in your cranium, or maybe someone will give you some insight into how to solve the problem and achieve your goal of actually finishing a polished, novel-length narrative inside of a year instead of five. You think that it’s possible that maybe all is not lost in squeezing out something, anything, onto the page.

Then, after another thirty seconds, you realise you’re probably not getting anywhere else again today, so you head off to play Halo.

And thus are you enlightened to my afternoon (minus the kingpin guy). 

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