Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Strain to Regain

Since I've found myself adopting poetic state of mind, I thought I'd use this opportunity to reproduce a poem written about a pervasive condition that all writers must suffer from, or at least feel anxious about at, sometime. Writer's Block. Consider Tom Sharpe of Wilt novel fame and all those brutal comedies written in the seventies and eighties: Riotous Assembly (1971) Indecent Exposure (1973) Porterhouse Blue (1974) Blott on the Landscape (1975) Wilt (1976) The Great Pursuit (1977) The Throwback (1978) The Wilt Alternative (1979) Ancestral Vices (1980) Vintage Stuff (1983) Wilt on High (1985.) This man's imagination was fizzing on the blowings-off of blow up dolls, farting with the gassy inflations of bobbling prophylactics and jerking with the methane of reanimated corpses; and then. . . Enter the Wilderness Years (between 1985 and 1995.) This wasn't generally considered his best work. The plot was deemed 'rather thin'. It was 'Slightly lacking in breadth and scope'. Its prose was considered 'a little spare'. In fact ten long years of writer's block and no work completed.

Stephen King wasn't obviously a sufferer, churning out over seventy novels to date: but consider two of his novels: The Shining, whose blocked protagonist memorably portrayed by a mad eyed wild-haired Jack Nicholson took to maniacally banging out "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," on his old Remington typewriter. This was a crazed effort to unblock his creativity before he went mad. He couldn't, so he did - and presumable King could imagine that he himself would too, if blocked. In Secret Window the main character shuts himself away in a remote cottage in an effort to cure himself of his writer's dry-up. A few scrapes and distractions fired him up a bit, but our main man, as depicted by a shambolic Johnny Depp with finger-raked, mussed hair and haunted looks was into suffering territory long before he realised it. It's an unsettling thing this Writer's Block. I wonder if Helen Nicholson scratch-wrote, strained, crossed out, swore, stuttered, drank, howled and head-cradled her way towards the final draft of 'Writer's Block' and in so doing cured herself of the condition. Seems she did, perhaps pointing the way for us all.

Writer's Block
Helen Nicholson

If I dared write
I would carve my words from a rock;
scrape a line with a flint sparking off malachite,
or smell the sulfur linger from a struck match
as I flare what I feel to the world.
I would give you cadences
Cuillin-sharp or rolling as the ocean;
line breaks dangerous as a
assonance subtle as the dying wind.
I would write of tears and dissolve your page.
I would write of drought and you would scrape the dust from your hands.
The tinder of my parched heart would spark forest fires.
I would growl a word
and you would hear the thunder.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?