Writer’s Block: Real or Imagined?

January 2012: This blog was composed during my employ as an Adjunct English teacher for a Florida high school. I have since transitioned to a more suitable “gig” as an Adjunct English Professor where I work primarily afternoon and nights (Yes!)

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog, I almost forgot how to upload an image. I struggled a bit, but it’s just like riding a bicycle: perfect recall and instincts kick in.

My life has taken a quantum leap from writing all that I desire (with self-imposed frequency) to a full-blown state of paranoia that some rogue entity is tracking my steps and intentionally reducing 24-hour days to anxiety races with digital clocks. Where does the time go? Every writer’s excuse is, “I don’t have the time.” I actually don’t. In the past 60 days, my life has gone from late-night marathon writes to a full-blown hatred of my android’s morning alarm. Six o’clock each morning it chimes an annoying, man-made “beat” some budding techie thought would sound “cool and inviting.” Well I hate it. If it weren’t such a smart little smart phone, I’d hurl my android across the room at the rising of the sun and smirk at its airborne demise.

I’m teaching (again). If an exclamation mark didn’t give you an indication that this is a “good thing,” allow me to feed your insatiable appetite for punctuation: “I’m teaching! (again).  This is a good thing! I love the English language! Working in an environment that is nurturing the next generation of artists is the antithesis of cool! I am an educator! I am a teacher! I am a pedagogue! But, I hate mornings. (note: sans exclamation mark)

I thought I was a writer?

Herein lies my dilemma: Am I a writer augmenting my well-deserved salary of zero by teaching, or am I a teacher who writes in her spare time? (note: spare time is an oxymoron).

Don’t get me wrong (note: teachers are never wrong): teaching and writing and writing and teaching and grading and planning and behavior management and writing and teaching are all a collective process I embrace, although often with hesitancy. It’s not the job folks, it’s those doggone mornings. To the person, person(s) or Heavenly Host that created mornings: may your next cup of Java be too strong for consumption and may every Starbucks you approach boast lines that snake city blocks so long you are perpetually late for work; we morning-haters know all too well the infraction(s) for the latter.

Fair enough. I did indeed, or rather, I have indeed digressed from my blog’s title: Writer’s Block. The real reason for digression is: Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. It’s a self-induced fallacy that encourages the frail souls of creative beings into believing that our miserable ability to manage time somehow equates to an inability to write.  Yeah…that’s the ticket. It’s not that I don’t manage my day’s activities, tasks, or goals properly, I am simply creatively stumped and stupefied by what (Oh what?) should I write about?

I have “Five Hundred, Twenty-Five Thousand, Six Hundred Minutes” worth of topics, ideas, prompts, fodder, political insight, human interest pursuits, etc. etc. etc. to write about. I am not lacking “experiences” or “passion.”

Insomniacs who abruptly morph their professional lives into careers that began with a six o’clock alarm and an 8:25 a.m. report time are doomed (and urged) to beg for Valium prescriptions like merciless addicts who simply “need to relax.” (Ya know, somehow I think the latter statement will haunt me, but only REAL writers broach the apex of truth, and I don’t know a single writer worth their weight who doesn’t require some “vice” to relax. Choose you this day what ye shall ingest. note: ingest means swallow.)

I’m an 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. vampire-writer. Always have been; always will be. I’m not knocking the teaching gig (let’s get THAT straight). It has re-ignited my love for literature and allowed me to fall in love again with Kafka, Kesey, and, and, and…I can’t think of a third “K” which is exactly why the KKK should have never existed. Ku and Klux would have probably been acceptable, but some genius pressed the issue at an underground meeting and they eagerly added “Klan.” The results are an integral part of our country’s appalling history. ( I guess I could have added “Keats,” but rather like what I just wrote.)

I enjoy reminding students that diction is “word choice” and that writing is about making sound “decisions.” Language is powerful, colorful, fluid, and flowing. Today I started my 12th grade classes on Renaissance Poetry: Love, Time, and Death. The emergence of “Humanism” was discussed and I integrated two contemporary poems: “Practicing” by Marie Howe (for “Love”) and “In The Event of My Demise” by Tupac Shakur (for “Death”). For their assignment, each student will “pen” a brief narrative titled: “In The Event of My Demise.” I expect to receive several responses that express a desire to be cremated, followed by a selfish request to have their ashes disguised as dandruff loosely scattered in Justin Beiber’s hair.

Both of the aforementioned poems offer a “safe” familiarity for their current level of poetic comprehension. Then on Friday, I’ll hit ’em hard with “Sonnets.”  I love teaching. It encourages me to “think outside the stanzaic box” (rim shot). The intrinsic rewards are invaluable, but a single, bad day can be suicide inducing. Teaching is the world’s perfect paradigm for “love-hate relationships.”

I love you; I hate you; I love you; Go get a tardy slip; I love you; Where’s your essay? I hate you; No you can’t go to the bathroom; Is it an emergency? Yes? I love you; Spot on: you correctly identified the novel’s theme, motifs, and symbolism. I LOVE YOU ~

Wait…what was I writing about? Was I writing? How? I have writer’s block. Don’t I? Once again I have digressed. (note: I learned to master digression from a student).

I guess if this blog must have a moral, which in and of itself would make it less blogilicious, it would be: “It’s not what’s blocked that is stagnating your ability to write, it’s your ability to write that will only emerge when you stop “imagining” your mind is blocked.”

Horrible moral. (note: I never professed to be the queen of morals, and at least it wasn’t a cliche.)

I am just a writer.

Philosophically: I write, therefore I am.

I am pleased that I have freely allowed my fidgety fingers to kiss the keyboard and capture my mind’s mile a minute thoughts. I am not blocked: I simply needed to take the time to write. (note: sans exclamation mark. They are grossly overused, unnecessary, and falsely embellish writing, yet students love ’em.)

Penny Dickerson 2011

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