15 March 2006

writer's block (an essay)

There's this coffee shop a couple of blocks from my apartment where I often go on afternoons to write, but mostly I just stare at a blank sheet of paper and fiddle with my iPod. I very rarely get anything done, other than casually observing humanity and increasing my dependency on caffeine. Today's newspaper claims that my city has the largest per-capita coffee consumption in the country, so my addiction is at least fitting, assuming the newspaper is to be believed.

Such information is encouraging, although not at all helpful, as I slog through yet another rewrite of a screenplay titled "coffee stains". But if I'm honest with myself, "slog" is too kind a description of the current state of my progress. "Stall" is much more accurate, even if it doesn't work in the context of the sentence. I haven't written a single line of dialogue in four months.

And it's not just the screenplay. It's also the TV series I promised to develop, the play due sometime next year that I haven't started, a couple of essays I promised to write, and not to mention the backlog of ideas cluttering my brain.

The only thing I can seem to write anymore are movie reviews that are well-received, but I can't shake the feeling they aren't all that they can be. And still they take me a couple of days to write, where before they used to take an hour, maybe two.

It could be that I'm a perfectionist.

When I finally accept that nothing's going to get done at the coffee shop, I walk home where there's a myriad of distractions, be it my roommates or the internet or television or the impending knowledge that if I want to be able to pay my rent, I should probably play a couple hundred hands of poker without running afoul of luck. Lately that's been nigh unto impossible.

So it goes.

What I need to do is get away for a couple of weeks, spend some time cut off from the internet and phone calls and this increasingly frustrating circle of friends, and just write or, failing that, do absolutely nothing at all.

If only I could afford it. Damn this debt. For some reason the whole scenario makes me want to get drunk and listen to Johnny Cash. Not the wisest course of action, but an effective one nonetheless.

Part of me--the irrational part--says I should just do it, financial considerations be damned. Or that I should get my heart broken--a sure-fire tonic for writer's block, and maybe I will. It wouldn't be the worst idea in the world. Long-term it may even be beneficial. I imagine that part of the problem is simply that I'm burned out and stuck in a routine.

By some stroke of cosmic fate, my iPod has just shuffled itself to Radiohead's song "How to Disappear Completely". It's not a bad idea.

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

--Pittsburgh, 2006.


mattreed said...

but at least you are tall

Derek said...

Even if you are blocked, your (to use an old movie word)*divine* reviews set the bar high for lesser film snobs. And don't underestimate being tall.

billiam said...

don't underestimate being tall- don't underedtimate being short! do what i would, something devious. i find that i can do anything once i've done something michevious.

if you have no ideas- i have more than enough for the both of us.

and just go on that trip.