The cursor blinks. It’s been doing that for very many hours, an enervating reminder of the fact that so far I have written not one single word in my new novel. Or rather I have, but I’ve deleted it just as fast. The most irritating aspect is that I know exactly what I want to depict, but the words don’t paint the picture I’ve got in my head. What should be a magnificent oil-painting ends up a pathetic cartoon, time and time again. Aagh!
I guess we all live through moments when our brain is uncooperative. There are those moments of complete blankness in the supermarket when I can’t come up with one single idea for dinner except for pasta bolognese, and we’ve already had that this week. Or when I hurry up the stairs, rush into my bedroom and … well, there’s the rub, I have no idea! And then there’s all the times when I have rushed round the house yelling “has anyone seen my glasses” until someone quietly points out that I’m holding them. Happens to all of us, right? Right?
However, nothing is quite as bad as the creative freeze. It is irritating to enter a room and no longer remember why, it is totally frustrating to sit before the computer with a bout of IT aphasia. This is where one is supposed to fall back on discipline, close your mind to the fact that there’s no true inspiration and write anyway. There’s nothing wrong with my discipline, in fact, one could argue that maybe I am excessively disciplined. There’s actually not much wrong with my inspiration, it’s just that the scene that was so crystal clear, so brilliant as I thought it through while mowing the grass (and why does that happen? Why do those perfect wordings descend on your brain when you’re not in a position to write it down?) is now… clumsy? cliché? plain embarrassingly bad?
Sometimes I notice this lack of words in other situations as well. I am generally considered a very verbal person, and to be struck dumb before an audience is an unusual and disconcerting experience. Once again, the words are there, hovering somewhere on the brink of my subconscious, but they don’t make it into vowels and consonants, they remain pictures. For a person who, for most of her life, has been able to rely on vocabulary to get her own way (yupp; I must admit to this) this is not a happy place. Taken in conjunction with the fact that I am no longer twenty-five, not even thirty-three or forty-one, at times this makes me worry. Seriously worry – or at least consider – whether I might be one of those people who will with advancing age more or less constantly say “Oh dear; I have it at the tip of my tongue, it’s a … a… thingy. ”
Fortunately, my brain thaws as quickly as it freezes. From being nonproductive it goes into volcano mode, spewing one more intriguing wording after the other to cascade like molten lava to my twitching fingers. The end result is masses of text, with an excessive amount of adverbs that I then spend hours editing out. (I love adverbs; kill your darlings, right?)
Tonight, though, my brain remains uncooperative. I decide to take this as a sign that I need to do something else, like beat my husband at Scrabble.
“I don’t do Scrabble anymore,” he says, “I do Wordfeud.”
Fantastic. Yet another electronic game, yet another irritating little blinking cursor!