Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. – Gene Fowler
It’s the worst feeling for a writer: I have absolutely no idea what to write. And no idea where to begin. My fingers won’t budge; they refuse to find their appropriate positions on the keyboard. My eyeballs stare without blinking at the empty screen before me. Air somehow moves in and out of my lungs although I am not breathing. Every once in a while, I furrow my brow or cock my head to one side, but nothing happens.
My mind is a complete and utter blank.
They call it writer’s block, and apparently it’s pretty common. There are tricks to disabling it, of course. Like, working on other projects, or going somewhere new, or pretending you’re someone else. You can talk your story to the stuffed blowfish in your office or that poster of Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. You can try freewriting, where you just write absolutely anything without stopping for a set amount of time. And there’s going for a walk, taking a shower, stretching, drinking water, listening to music, and reading passages from works you admire.
Yes, those are all fine tools for combating writerly uninspiration. But they’re just not working for me right now. And it’s because I have yet to find out how to kill that voice in my head—not the playful keiki voice that tells me to scrape the frosting off a glazed doughnut and smear it on my lips, although it very well might be the same one. Not the happy-go-lucky barfly voice that says, “Hey, it’s free—it doesn’t count!” Not even the existential goth-girl voice urging me to turn off the lights and contemplate Kafka, naked.
The voice I am battling now, while writing this column, is the one that is saying, “No, that’s not good enough—nobody wants to hear about your week running around the island with your old topless skateboarding buddy Sasha, who’s visiting from San Francisco. Nobody wants to hear about how you’ve been spending all that time back at the revised Sugar Shack, with Kim and Sonja and their respective dudes. Certainly, nobody needs to hear about all the Westside drama, gossip, drinking, partying and debauchery—I mean, they’ve heard it all before.”
So now what?
This issue is our Maui Film Festival at Wailea guide. Perhaps I should tell you about my past experiences with the event, all the celebrity-filled galas and private after-parties, and the embarrassing and titillating tidbits about the people who pay big bucks to drink too much at them. Or I could launch into a dissertation of all the films I’ve seen recently and how relevant they are to our current sociopolitical climate…
“Uh, you’ve done the nostalgic thing to death,” the voice says. “Gossiping is beneath you. And nobody really gives a shit about your grand opinions of Stranger than Fiction and Charlotte’s Web.”
Okay. Well… some people have been asking lately about my possible plans to move off-island. Maybe I can talk about where I’m thinking about going and when, and what I’m doing with my career and stuff.
“Don’t you think you’d be killing the suspense? I mean, why lay it all out there now? Plus, there are those stalkers you have to worry about.”
Right. Um… I could talk about my relationship and love, what I’m learning about it, and all the joys and tragedies going on there.
“Too depressing! Too real! People don’t wanna hear about that. Why don’t you go take a walk, have a drink, smear some doughnut frosting on your lips and come back to us when you have something.”
Samantha Campos has a PhD in forensic neurosocietal melanchology. MTW