Friends: The Cure for Writer’s Block

“Hi, are you home??”

“Um. No.” I straighten from winding the hose I just used to fill a water bowl. “I’m right down the road. Feeding a neighbor’s cat. I’ll be right there.”

1377147_433628653415358_273286305_nI balance the bag of cat food, my phone, and walk back to the street. I see Jami and feel the equivalent of Katniss on seeing Prim. She’s wearing a cute dress, highlighted by the colors of the evening sun. I think if it was a movie I’d run to hug her. But I’d leave a trail of cat food and we’re both wearing shoes that are not compatible for running, so we just keep walking like sophisticated adults.

Jami’s been my honorary younger sister for years. I’ve known her for over half of her life and almost half of mine. She’s down on one of the few free weekends of her Summer before college swallows her up again. We have this trend. We get together, stock up on gummy worms and chocolate, and spent a lot of time sitting near each other writing words on paper. Literal paper. Sometimes with fountain pens. Her’s has a refill. Mine didn’t come with one and I haven’t ordered one so I spend a lot of time going around my messier-than-I-care-for room looking for one of the two special pens I bought just for this weekend. I am a pen snob. If it doesn’t flow onto the page and glisten for a moment before it dries, I don’t like it.

She’s got lots of projects in the fire for the weekend. Summer class homework, blogging, and her novel. I have one and only one goal: to write the wedding scene. It’s not JUST a wedding scene. It’s the marriage of a price – a savor – that a little country of nomadic clans have spent hundreds of years preparing for. A legend, a prophecy, has been passed down from generation to generation and teenagers have spent their entire childhoods trying to become the most skilled person in the clan so they have the honor of contributing to the wedding and coronation of the king who is going to free them from all of their oppression. It’s a big deal.

It’s also a scene I’ve been stuck on for almost a month. I wrote bits, starting this scene, then that. I even got up at 5:00 so time wouldn’t be a factor. I keep whispering, “No words. No words.” It’s the worst writer’s block I’ve ever gotten and it’s compounded by that nasty little voice that whispers in my head, “What do you know about weddings? What do you even know about being in love?”

I was in love once, about ten years ago. Ever since then my luck with romance has just led to awkward situations, unwanted and creepy suitors, one or two slight disappointments, and a whole lot of singleness. It didn’t really bother me until about two years ago but this past year, it’s becoming an increasingly painful place in my heart.

Combine that with a lack of sleep, frustration with a flagging publishing business, and about four other projects and you have shake-and-bake for spending a long time procrastination writing. Like, I’d-rather-fill-out-health-insurance-forms type of procrastinating. Because I know when I start writing I’m going to get stuck, write a bunch of gibberish I’ll never use, get on a roll just in time for the alarm to go off and tell me I have half an hour to be at work.

“Lindsey’s going to finish the wedding scene this weekend,” Jami says.

“Yeah,” I say. Though honestly, I’m nervous about whether or not that’s actually going to happen. I start going back through old chapters trying to update the threads that have changed. Then I switch over.

“My goal is to keep the pen moving,” I say. “It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad or just summerizing something. I just got to keep the pen moving.”

And I do. We have some breaks. But mostly I write, then lay down for a power nap because my eyes won’t stay open, get up and write again. But you know what? Jami’s faith and my pen are working. It’s not a great scene. It’s not even a good scene. But it’s something. My mother and brother are down visiting as well. There’s lots of laughter and conversation going on. Sometimes I join. Sometimes I try to stay in my head and not get jerked out of the scene. This weekend is the only one I have free all month. Every other Saturday I’m working. So I get up early the next morning and start writing again.

Jami comes into my room. “How’s the writing?”

“They’re saying their vows,” I say.

“Yay! What do you need? Do you need anything? Coffee? Food?”

At first, I think she’s joking before I realize she’s not. I’m about to tell her no. But then I realize I really have no reason to.

“Coffee?” I asked. “Coffee would be great.”

“We have biscuits and sasauge left from last night. I’ll bring it up.”

I keep writing. She disappears and a few minutes later comes up balancing two coffee mugs. I eat about four bites of the sausage and keep writing. Then yell to everyone in the house and possibly a few neighbors. “They’re married!”

We celebrate by going to the bay. We talk about fairies, watch the sunfish sailboats zip back and forth. I bring my recorder to try and capture splashing sounds for the “Peter Pan” audiobook project at the library. I capture a lot of Jami laughing and mostly wind. Then we get out because tiny jellyfish start bobbing against our legs. A run to the store with my brother in his truck. We get “La La Land.” It confuses me. Then I like it. Then I’m incredibly depressed by it. Then I can’t tell if I like it or not but that main tune is catchy and I figure out how to play the basic melody on the piano.

 

The next day I write again. Then we do a photo shoot worthy of all the Pintrest’s “Nailed It” section. Some of the pictures were good. Some were just weird and we dubbed them, “ART.” Art includes biting ants and itchy grass. And then my mother has to leave, then Jami, then my brother.

 

Regular life sets in. Except for one little change. I decide I can’t handle life without at least trying to take a step each day to regain what I’ve lost this past year with Ever Ink’s progress. Even if it’s one page a day, even if I can only find half an hour to write. I write. Even when I have to do a lot of telling, can’t figure out discription, am not sure of where this scene is leading, I’ve been writing. Every time I write, another aqua jewel goes on my calendar.  There’s been a series of moments later, of encounters, of encouragement from friends, that make my spirit feel like it’s normal self again. Some of the old confidence is returning. And though right now all I can do is take a tiny step each day, tomorrow makes two weeks that I’ve managed to add words every day.

And that feels like hope.

I’m so grateful for friends who say things like, “You need to finish that scene. Here. I’ll get you coffee.”

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