Clearing the blockage 

Writers offer antidotes and anecdotes on overcoming the blank screen

By Gillie Easdon

So. I sit at my desk, inside on a glorious summer-dregs day and my fingers rest on “asdf jkl;” like they are supposed to. I'm feeling moderately stoic for being inside at all. Smug, even. Like I have already accomplished something just because I am not biking down Dallas Road with my two-string kite ogling the paragliders and kiteboarders as I envy all the dog owners. Not to mention the buff shirtless joggers. There is lovely scenery along this wide ocean road.

I type the word, “So”. I stare vacantly at the screen with a gape generally reserved for elevators. I notice a smudge on the screen. I wipe it off with my thumb. It leaves a thumb print. I go get a cloth to wipe off the smudge and am suddenly acutely aware of how dusty my monitor is, and the keyboard. And the desk. And the laptop adjacent. I wipe them down. I throw the cloth in the laundry bin. The bin is nearly full. I sit down again. The word “So” looks more like a swan looking at a bowling ball now. I rub my front teeth with my left index finger and resume staring at the screen. I’m thirsty.

I get up and make a cup of tea. I spoon a little demerara onto my tongue and listen to the kettle ruffle its feathers. I check my e-mail again (20 th time today and it is 3:30 p.m.). Five new messages. A smile of glee slashes across my face. I open hotmail. My smile spills onto the floor. Hotmail is getting so much junk these days. Maybe Carla will invite me to g-mail.

Okay. I have my tea. Fingers alight the keyboard and a delicate right pinky lands, soundless, on the backspace button. Push. Push. Push. Blank screen.

I should do the dishes. I rise and beeline for the kitchen... I can't believe I have not done the dish— wait, there is only one coffee cup, a small plate decked with salt, pepper, a little leftover yolk and a spoon. Do the dishes later. Sit down. Would I just sit down and get to work? Okay, okay, I’ll just sit down. As I ease my derrière into the seat I wonder if the laundry room is free but I catch myself and yank my fingers onto the keyboard. Sit. Stay. Stay.

So. Well. Hmm.

I don't feel like working on my book. I don't really feel like drumming out articles. I’m still waiting to hear back from a few pitches. No, don’t feel like doing that. But then again, I don't want to bail on my writing for the day because then I'll feel like a loser. I wish someone would call, even to go for coffee. I could somehow justify that. In this type of situation it is not permissible to initiate that type of activity. I have very strict rules of this nature.

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