Bitch Slapped by Writer’s Block

Image courtesy of peregrin blue Creative Commons via Flikr.comSuffocated. I’m sitting in a bookstore and I’m suffocated. The high ceilings and plush chair offer no solace as I sit here and think:

Every one of these books represents someone who could write.

Or just fucking lucky to find a publisher.

The words, the books are towering over me and piling on top of me and I can’t breathe, but somehow I can type and I know this is going to end up on my blog.

It’s a rough place to be as a writer when you have ideas piled-up on the shelf, yet not one begs to be taken down and dusted off. Used. In a filthy, self-satisfying way that only writers enjoy. We grope them, our ideas. They are highly malleable and when primed, plead with us to mold and caress them into something … finished.

I overuse ellipses, placing them where my brain stalls. My fingers rarely stop when I sit down to write and those three little dots are visual expressions of my brain’s stutters. Welcome to my brain and all that is (as I recently described) the mental equivalent of Speedy Gonzales on meth. I find it staggering that I can drone on about not being able to write. Sickly ironic. I also despise it when people misuse the word “irony.” Here’s a link for you to use the next time you want to describe something as ironic.

Circling at 24,000 feet is where this writer’s life is at as of late. If I were a jetliner, I’d have long since run out of fuel and crashed into mid-American suburbia (or perhaps mid-Italian…I’ve always wanted to see Italy). As a human, however, the power of the mind to stall indefinitely is inconceivable. I still can’t type or say that word without a Princess Bride-ish lisp.

Conversations, they come. We dance with our words and stir our coffee, creating our own little escapes each time we clasp our mugs or take a sip. Those are our ways of saying I’m done talking … Your turn … I really want to leave … This guy is an asshole and I can’t say anything because I have a full cup of coffee. Why is it I can crack corn with whomever throws verbal discourse in my direction yet I can’t get a single festering idea to ooze onto my page? I have left the house, I have no distractions. None except the woman who just came and moved the faded burgundy Victorian-style armchair clear across the bookstore and the Weeble-ish man wobbling around the Science Fiction section directly across from me sporting a … Members Only jacket. Good Christ.

I could take Weeble Man and hypothesize that his name is Rick. His last name is likely overly generic like his beige jacket, beige plaid shirt and beige pants. (Yes, they’re beige) I also adore parenthetical notations. I use them as my own rendition of Shakespearean asides, though Will’s got a much larger subscriber to his RSS feed.

Rick is a tech guy and manages IT for a mid-sized corporation. He works from 9 to 6 and takes an hour for lunch. He likes Chipotle and always eats the entire burrito, evidenced by the heft that overlaps the front of his overburdened waistband. On the first and fifteenth of each month, Rick logs into his Wamu (becoming Chase) account and verified that his direct deposit has, indeed, appeared. Unmarried and uninterested in women, he would rather dream of imaginary robot princesses who come to discover they have feelings and fall desperately in love with their human creator. Books pile Rick’s bedside table and empty Mountain Dew cans line the top of the desk at his home office. He does not have a phone line and uses VOIP and has a nine-year-old cat named Ford. Not after the automaker, mind you, but Lita. The highlight of Rick’s day is viewing new videos on and he prefers the ones with scantily-clad coeds. Subject matter? Unimportant. Dressed is better than undressed but he likes them when they’re in cotton underthings most of all. He eats three Luna Bars a day, but secretly. People think they’re for chicks but he really likes the Lemon Zest flavor. They go well with Mountain Dew, accounting for the pile of wrappers that form a foil moat in front of his desk’s soda can fortress.

But Rick does me no good. He doesn’t serve anything I’m working on or have in my cache. I could build Rick out six ways till Sunday and have him in a quandary over his love for Ford and his pent-up need to torture stray cats in the alleyway behind his house with the light saber replica he bought at the Star Trek convention (yeah, it’s Star Wars but have you seen the shit people buy at Star Trek conventions?), but it would do fuckall for my attempts to put together this book idea that’s bitch slapping my ego at present.

If writing were easy, more people would be good at it. Face it: many people do it and most suck. You might think I suck. Fine. I suck, point conceded. Now fuck off. For those of you who stay, congrats on making it this far reading my musings on why I cannot write. Another damn ironic moment. But back to “easy.” It’s not easy. Writing is more than words on a page and anyone who thinks otherwise is probably a shitty writer. I’ve got a lot left to learn but that, I know. The goal is always to tap. Tap into your reader’s mind and life and either peacefully coexist with what they love and revere or shake them so goddamn hard that they’re left reeling. Anything in between is unadulterated failure.

Afraid to fail yet more afraid to begin, I think. It’s easier to ponder why I cannot (will not?) give myself a good, hard what the fuck? than it is to jump. Upside? I’ve got a blog for Friday. Downside? I can’t get Rick and his beigeness out of my head.

Like this shit? Subscribe to my RSS feed. Publishers like to see that people already dig your shit because they’re inherently lazy and have no idea how to market flake food to fish. They just want to know who’s really gonna buy your book if they go out on a limb and print it after flipping you a $2500 advance that barely covers a writer’s rent for two months. But I digress… << ellipsis


Erika, I love you, and I love this post. I know the feeling. I didn't write for years after I got my freshly minted undergraduate degree in Creative Writing with an emphasis in non-fiction. Now, I mostly write my blog because it's easy. When I have the occasional paying project, I toil like you would not believe... er, or, exactly the same way you do. Take care of you, sunshine...


I like Luna Bars, especially the Lemon ones. I also took three Pamprin once when I had a nasty headache. I have yet to menstruate, praise Allah.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I wouldn't do that if I were you, Dave. Sorry - I cannot resist the 2001 Space Odyssey reference.


Lady, I know the pain. It's kinda why I stopped calling myself a "writer" lately. After finishing the big projects after college, I was never able to get started on anything major since then. I have the ideas, I just don't have the drive to say "OK, let's spend the next four years for something that will probably not work out." Now I know why all the good writers drank themselves to death. -DTP


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RedheadWriting and RedheadWriting. RedheadWriting said: Rick has a cat named Ford & like it when girls wear cotton underthings (new post @ Redheaded Fury) […]