Today we’re going to talk about constipation
And emus…little, purple ones….that wear monocles and speak with a British accent, plus Mark Zuckerberg’s personal quest to keep me from realizing my destiny.
OK, this is coming out all weird, even for me… Let’s back up a bit.
It all starts with one of my crazier dreams…
I’m not going to recite the whole thing, but the gist is I awoke one day to discover my yard filled with all sorts of fantastical little creatures: cartoon chipmunks, a Snowy Owl, a 3 foot tall clay trachodon…all led by a purple-feathered, monocled emu who assured me that, yes I certainly was dreaming, but they (meaning the animals) would always be here when I needed them.
I woke from the dream understanding that the animals represented the ideas….that creativity….that little spark of talent that I had pretty much ignored for almost twenty-years after I entered the real world and dreams took a back seat to bills and practicality. And that when I finally decided I had the time to write, to return to the dream, the ideas would still be there.
A few years later, when I started this extended midlife crisis and decided to really try the wild, wacky world of writing, the emu’s words proved truthful. Not only could I still write, I was better than I was at twenty; and the ideas – fantastic, disturbing, touching – they were still there and they turned into wonderful stories. And even though those stories inevitably were rejected (multiple times), they also came back with praise and encouragement and I knew that someday the planets would align and the stories would find their place.
For the next four years that emu would whisper to me and keep the idea generator going; and if I didn’t heed him often enough, if I let life get in the way and found excuses and roadblocks that kept me from putting my ass in the seat and hands on the keyboard, well, I’m relatively young yet. And the little purple bastard promised he’d always be here for me.
Unfortunately, somewhere between managing projects and building websites and scrolling through countless Facebook posts about cats and recipes for corn chip mango noodle casserole, and how Obama wants our guns so he can turn the government over to Islamic cat aliens who desire the worlds supply of corn chips, mangoes, and noodles…I think the emu got a little tired of waiting for me. Like a neglected wife, he just packed his bags and left….
And without him, the ideas, that creativity, that spark has guttered. The raging river of ideas and characters and settings that flooded my brain has dwindled to a trickle. Right now, it’s only mostly dead, because every now and then a story will flare up (mostly prompted by Ken Wood and the good folks at Shock Totem.) , but I’m really afraid it’s only a matter of time before even those fade away.
The really scary thing is, it’s not just the stories that have tailed off…it’s almost everything creative: the websites, this blog, even planning those things. I can’t post meaningful statuses, I can’t tweet, I’m having a hard time even reading. And I almost never dream anymore… one by one, those little critters, those little symbols that populated the chaotic world of my grey matter, have just wandered away, following the purple tail-feathers of their leader and leaving behind a wasteland that feels a little more arid everyday.
That’s where the constipation comes in…because I’m mentally blocked. Completely. And while all other aspects of my life have aligned to allow me the opportunity to write – new job, family support, good health, more time – time sitting in my desk chair (or the kitchen, or the coffee shop) is a fruitless and unfulfilling as Jack Portnoy’s trips to the bathroom. And I can’t find any mental colon blow to get things moving again. With a few exceptions, every idea I labor to squeeze out turns out to be crappy little turd that I end up flushing before walking away from the computer in disgust.
The good news is I’m surrounded by an extended, supportive writing family, many of whom have been here: the aforementioned Ken Wood with his excellent prompt contests has become my surrogate emu….my good friend Glenn Walker of Biff Bam Pop fame, solicited ideas from his vast connections to break me out of this funk, and of course the good folks at the South Jersey Writers Group and the Philadelphia Writers Conference have provided a kind ear and enough advice to write an entire book on writers’ block
OK..That’s more than enough therapy for today. I’ll snail mail your $100 co-pay for my hour on your couch soon.
Just one last favor: If, any of you do happen to run across a little purple emu wearing a monocle and muttering about ungrateful, lazy writers…tell him I’m sorry. Tell him I need him. And tell him if he comes back, I’ll never take him for granted again.