Head scratching produces few ideas By Bob Karolevitz I've never believed in that nebulous thing called Writer's Block, but now I think I'm experiencing one.
As a professional wordsmith, I've never had trouble coming up with a column idea, even though this is the 854th consecutive week of an unduplicated Writer-at-Large piece.
I've always sat down at my work table on Monday morning, scratched my head a few times, and then a column came forth. However, this week nothing is happening.
The blank piece of paper has stayed blank. I've even broken out in a cold sweat as the deadline approaches. Will this be the end of my streak? Will I never make it to the Guinness Book of World Records for uninterrupted weekly columns which have somehow emerged each Monday for more than 16 years?
Even my always dependable wife has failed me. "Please, Phyllis, go out and do something dumb so I can write about it," I plead. But at long last she has gotten even with me for the numerous barbs I've directed at her through the years.
Worst of all, she has sold all her sheep, and that has eliminated one of my best sources of column ideas. There'll be no more nights in the barn, no more half-frozen lambs in the kitchen sink or no more visions of Phyllis stomping fleeces in a wool sack.
"I've been your faithful foil for your Monday musings long enough," she says. "Go find some other subject matter for a change."
And so I'm faced with my first Writer's Block, and it's all her fault.
As I try to overcome the literary hurdle, all kinds of thoughts have gone through my mind. I've written about moles, marbles, mushrooms and mulberries. My topics have ranged from A to Z, from ants to zucchini. Surely there must be something else to write about.
Ideas have come and get rejected because I can't stretch them into the required length. Nothing in my bulging file of column possibilities gives me inspiration on this morbid Monday.
I search through my collection of clippings and miscellaneous notes to no avail. You'd think something would get me off dead center so I could meet this week's commitment. I'm almost frantic.
Oh, wait! Here's an item I've saved for a long time. Maybe I can squeeze a dozen paragraphs or so out of it. It seems that somebody has figured out that in 14 hours your heart beats 103,689 times, your blood travels some 168,000,000 miles and you inhale 438 cubic feet of air.
The fact that my hair has grown .001244 of an inch while I've been sitting here trying to come up with a column idea might be something I can milk into an acceptable piece. But, no, it just isn't enough, and I don't trust the statistics.
Yes, I've got to admit it. I'm experiencing a real, honest-to-goodness Writer's Block. There's no way I'll overcome it in time to get a column out this week. Your editor will just have to fill the space with something else this issue.
Actually, the writing is the easy part. It's the thinking that's the hard work.
Oh well, maybe next Monday will be better!