[Note: I wrote this a few months back, when I in Richmond, VA, about to return back to India in a few weeks time. Ironically and somewhat paradoxically, it’s a post on Writer’s Block! And the meandering, non-cohesive rambling is an intended consequence of forcing myself to write in a stream-of-consciousness mode, while suffering an utter lack of imagination. Hence, brilliantly (or stupidly!) enough, I decided to characterize my own writing struggles in 3rd person (go figure)! What turned out can itself serve as a subtle diagnosis of writer’s block! :P]
He was staring at a blinking cursor for a few hours – intermittently switching tabs, cuing another song, reading a short NYTimes article, watching a useless Youtube video (let’s face it – they all are pretty useless), taking a half a dozen breaks, gulping down a couple of cans of Coke, restlessly pacing the room, re-adjusting his posture on the chair – in short, everything except what he wanted to do. He was so inert and mellow, that he wished for a barrell of a gun to stare at, rather than the meek, innocuous blinking cursor, since that would provide a high-stakes life-death (किसी के ज़िंदगी या मौत का सवाल!) situation, and perhaps inspire him finally to action.
For what he wanted to do was write a line, a word, even a letter – to take the first proverbial step – to break the inertia of staying still, of staying locked up in an internal wrestle with the center of his own consciousness. He needed some inspiration to write, and none had come to him in the past few hours, despite what it seemed was a sufficiently diverse range of audio-visual inputs, courtesy of the Internet. Perhaps that was the problem, he mused. Perhaps humans have been so successful at mimicking the sensations of real-life via simulations which are quite adept at substituting for sensory stimulation, that in fact they have forgotten to get the real thing from time to time. Sadly, these simulations are real enough to lull us into a false sense of reality, but unreal enough to leave a “splinter in your eye” feeling (as Morpheus would say) – a barely perceptible feeling of having had, of being incepted. I am of course talking about The Matrix. Naah!
I guess this is just stream-of-consciousness or WITWIW – What I Think is What I Write. But underlying it is a much deeper struggle – the conscious intent to break the spell of solipsistic unconsciousness, and inertia to change, to act that follows everybody like a halo. Especially writers, even more especially aspiring writers. And most especially aspiring writers with a writers-block.
The key to getting things done is fighting inertia. The key to not being depressed is fighting inertia. The key to be productive is undoubtedly fighting inertia. In short, the key to life is fighting inertia. Inertia to reform, resistance to change. Inertia to move, resistance to procrastination. And this is the central problem for most people, for most of their lives. And while everyone in diverse roles in society, personally and professionally, undertakes this fight in their own ways, a writer (especially an aspiring one) perhaps takes it up with unmatched ferocity and vigor.
For while most people combat inertia at a physical and mental level, the aspiring writer fights it in a creative level as well. And in this regard (creatively), writers can be among the toughest people to negotiate with – the only catch being, these poor souls are actually negotiating with themselves – a silent shouting contest inside their own minds – of the incessant, harrowing haggling between their logical/pragmatic (let’s write some shit and meet the deadline!) and creative/insane (let’s nail this down perfectly, right down to the last goddamn thing!) minds. And this intense internal negotiation is so all-encompassing and never-ending, that it drives these hapless souls to experiencing indecisiveness (paralyzing them), lofty expectations (crushing them), restlessness (inducing neurotic twitches), among many other potent side-effects, of the otherwise intellectual/creative-endorphin-rich experience. Is the kick/high worth the hangover? Is the pleasure worth the pain (or more correctly pain-in-the-ass for self and others)? Many a writer has contemplated this (including yours truly), but to no avail. The answer remains elusive, the internal haggling still continues…