Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 22, 2016

At the desk, waiting for the words to come

I Swear

Vic Fleming

“Author’s obstacle.” Twelve letters. Hint: I prefer neither to say nor write the two-word answer.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is reported to have described it in 1804 as “an indefinite indescribable Terror.” 

It’s akin to the word shank on a golf course. I don’t even call it “the S word.” No one wants to hear it. No one wants to think about it. 

Does it make any sense that there are some things that one must not-think into non-existence?

In a dozen-year-old New Yorker piece, Alice W. Flaherty, who teaches neurology at Harvard Medical School, is cited for the notion that the problem lies somewhere in the frontal lobe of the brain.

Asked about this, uh, occasional impairment, Maya Angelou said, “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come’.” 

One of the things that I do is to make a rhyme out of a sentence that comes to mind. Such as

And as for Ernest Hemingway,

Well, here is what he had to say:

“[S]top when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck…. Your subconscious will work on it …. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it ….”

Hmm. Doesn’t quite feel applicable to the multi-topic columnist, does it?

Apropos of this topic, Anne Lamott’s words from “Bird by Bird” are often cited: “The problem is acceptance. … [I]f you accept the reality that you have been given – that you are not in a productive creative period – you free yourself to begin filling up again.”

Terry Pratchett somewhat famously denied the existence of the topic at hand, saying that it “was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” Did I hear someone say “Who?”

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, who died in 2015 at the age of 66, wrote comic fantasy fiction. He’s known for a series of 41 novels called the “Discworld Series.” His first novel came out in 1971, the first Discworld novel in 1983. From ’83 on, he penned an average of two books a year.

A person called Sharon Villines, at some site I visited in my research on this topic, comments: “A famous psychoanalyst of many artists, whose name I never knew, said that [the topic I am refusing to mention by name] is a sign of disconnection with one’s emotions. When I feel drained, I take a few moments to connect. It works.”

That seems awfully general. But, hey, if it works for you, Sharon, then go for it!

At the same site where Sharon posted, someone goes by Woofers53. Woofers cites fantasy writer Robert Jordan, who published 11 novels between 1990 and his death in 2007. Asked where his inspiration came from, Jordan replied, “I don’t know, but I know where it comes to and that’s my desk. And if I am not there, it goes away again.”

So, here I sit … at my desk.