Writer’s block is a horrid thing. I’d never experienced it before, at least never so badly as now. My fingers used to run quickly over the keyboard, darting clicks of inspiration, and the words would appear. I’d be satisfied. Even if the writing wasn’t perfect, I’d edit until satisfied. Sometimes days would pass by and the writing wouldn’t come. But it passed. I always had the confidence that the words would flow again. This past year has been different. I’ve opened up the computer and stared at the blank screen in misery. I’m like a well that was once full and is now bone dry. The stories that came so easily have abandoned me. I still write in my mind, but once I open the computer, my fingers sit poised for action, ready to dart. I close my eyes in despair as the truth sinks in. There is nothing to work with, like a carpenter ready to build without wood or knife.
I wonder the reason for this. Is it that I’m so mired in parenthood, my mind filled with all the little responsibilities parents have to think about: have you done your homework? Why not? Where is your lunch box? You left it at school again? You need money for what? Where do you need to be dropped? And on and on it goes.
Is it because I now live in Canada: a safe place where people obey the laws and things run more or less by clockwork, where I’m content and the majority of people lead uncomplicated lives? I’m not saying Canadians are boring but the news headlines in Jamaica were enough to inspire many a story. Have I relied too much on stories and not enough on good writing? After all, one of my favourite writers, Canadian Nobel prize winner for literature, Alice Munro, writes about Canada and her stories hold me spellbound. I re-read her books over and over again.
Perhaps I’m so busy that my creative mind has been pushed down so far that it is unreachable. My mom came to visit in June. She pointed to a grassy area next to a highway near my home. “Look at the field,” she said in delight to my daughter. “There are so many shades of green, white green, grey green, I can count ten shades of green. An artist has to notice the landscape around them.”
I glanced briefly at the field before returning my eyes to the road. “I don’t notice the greens,” I said. “I barely notice the field.” I gripped the steering wheel and made a left turn. My body felt tight and there was a dull thudding pain over my eyes. I was rushing to take my daughter to dance. We were late. My eyes were narrowed, my heartbeat fast, my breathing shallow. I was on the road but barely noticed the other cars around me. I didn’t see the landscape at all. It took all my concentration to converse with my mother and focus on the road. I wanted to breathe but there was a constriction in my chest. I have to slow down, I thought fleetingly. I have to notice the shades of green.
This, I think, is part of the problem.