Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blocking the Writer

Sometimes, you just can't put anything into words.

You look and look and stare at this white blank piece of paper, and there is just
nothing coming out of the pen. It just wasn't meant to be. That paper is mocking
you, laughing at your feeble attempts to force your hand to write what your mind is
thinking. Both the paper and your hand are laughing, saying, "Oh this is rich. Look
at that prose, it's downright hideous. I'm embarrassed to be attached to this
person!" And the paper replies, "if you think that's bad, try being the one who's
forced to bear this dope's tattoo for the rest of your natural life."

It's worse when your job is on the line. Authors, Grad Students, Postal Clerks,
Police, all jobs where writing is part and parcel of the daily tasks. And to be so
crippled by that most fiendish mind which cannot fathom where to start or end with
the purpose on task. It is truly devilish.

Perhaps it is just the daunting task of knowing where to begin. It is similar to
the formality you encounter when you are just introduced to someone, polite hullos
are exchanged and small talk is brought up as you feel out this new aquiantance,
finding out where they stand, whether they like you and you like them.

Only in writing, there are many more factors. The audience is unseen, possibly.
Who knows what they will think of you. If you start off on the wrong foot, then your
idea will not get across. You have to be perfect in your introduction, you have to
nail it right off the bat. It must be perfect. Anything less is inviting diaster.
A good intro can hand wave past shaky premises and any leaps of logic.

And it must all tie together into a single thesis towards which you are
presenting. Every work has a singular goal and a purpose which the author wants to
drive you the reader towards. It could be as complex as using symbology to protest
the silence of the Darfur crisis or as simple as discussing the day-to-day
banalities. But whatever the cause, it must get the point across. And it's hard
especially when your talking points all mash around in your skull and obfuscate your
central point.

We all succumb to this. It's only natural as most of us cannot efficiently process a piece of writing right off the bat and with no delay or heistation. It's something of a learned skill.

It also happens to be a skill which I still have yet to grapple with.

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