Friday, December 28, 2012

Extreme Writer's Block

I suppose most writers have trouble writing now and again. I've blogged about some small cures for writer's block. I'm blocked sometimes. I get sick of rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, or life gets in the way. Often it's just laziness and aversion to pain. Like most writers, I push through. But some folks just can't. I have two acquaintances like that. 

I know a woman who planned to write an autobiography.  She had an extraordinary past, well worth reading about. She proudly told her children she was writing the book for them. She collected files and created a special room to write in. But she didn't write. Decades after making the choice to be a writer, her files and special room stand dusty and unused. She tells her children she has writer's block.

And then there's a man who tells his family he's going to write a travel book about certain sacred religious sites being destroyed by parking lot style progress. It's an important and controversial project. His family is in awe. They call it "His Book"--in caps. He quit his job to spend three years exploring these holy places. And three years after that? Not one word on a page. He also says he has writer's block.

Given that I get a lesser form of the malady, you'd think I'd be sympathetic. But I'm not. These folks are trying to collect on prestige they aren't entitled to. It's a form of narcissism. How long can a writer have writer's block before they shouldn't call themselves a writer? I'm not sure. But it's not years. It's not decades. If writer's block is so severe that it's paralyzing, then do something else! Don't call yourself a writer. There are plenty of other, easier ways to be creative or to give life meaning.  The supposed status of being a writer comes with a high price. The actual work is often tedious and hard (and rejected).

Grandiose delusion from fake achievement bugs me. It's commonplace, though. Like when folks say they have a master's degree--having done everything but the thesis. Huh? Isn't writing the thesis important? Isn't that proof of successful study? Hey, if the actual thesis is irrelevant, I want me some admiration for being an Olympic-quality sprinter. I've got everything but the speed.

Best wishes for the new year!

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