Hominy & Hash
WRITER'S BLOCK AND HOW TO BREAK IT
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Writer's block, so-called when writers begin articles and nothing comes. Nothing. There you are with fingers poised over the keyboard or pen in hand, creative juices are not flowing and the brian triggers nothing to Spring into an idea ... followed by 900 words constituting an article.
And, here I am with a deadline looming. My editor at American Reporter, Joe Shea, insists writer's block is no excuse for missing a deadline. He told me (in what came across my e-mail as an electronic command) to sit quietly and the idea will come. "You will write. Post it before 9:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time," he demanded.
Well, I'm sitting. And I'm very quiet. It's too quiet. I decide to turn on the evening news. I do have to keep up, even while waiting for some enlightened spirit to guide me.
Harry Potter and his midnight sale in bookstores all over the world at precisely the same moment, is all the news. J.D. Rowling, author of this phenomenal success now up to Volume Six, is being interviewed: She's asked which of the many magic powers she bestows on the ficticious Harry Potter she would like to have herself.
"I would like to be invisible," she answered promptly, explaining if she were invisible she could go to some Bistro and quietly write all day. That's how she started, unknown at the time. Now, she can't sit quietly anywhere; her fans are all around her. But, that gave me an idea.
If I'm going to sit quietly until my muse appears, I can do it in my favorite bistro: "Simon Says," on St. Simons Island. I take a table near the window, the better to see what I'm writing. I start thinking of Ms. Rawling and her wish to be invisible. I decide it's not for me. Why would I like to slither through here in my ectoplasm (if that's the word for what spirits wear) when I would learn nothing worth writing about.?
Invisible is okay as far as it goes but I would like to take it into time travel. I have so many questions and I've never come across answers. When things are as they are with no thought of how they could be made easier, no one records the need for an easier, time saving, way to do it.
In my imagination I can be among the homesteaders forging across this great country, breaking trails along the way. I can ignore Hollywood renditions and turn, instead, to the journals kept by some of the women traveling westward. Through their words, I can be part of the scene, right down to where they close the curtain.
One hardworking, genteel women, wrote about the rain that kept her drenched and not able to change clothes for six weeks. They had no clothes, no cotton, no calico. I can envision that deprivation, but I just can't imagine how they took care of their "personal" needs.
If I went back in time, I would manage to keep up for perhaps four or five hours before a very definite call of nature. The diarists write about drying things, reloading the wagon, taking care of sick children and husbands who were suffering from "the dysentery" again. How did they handle these "evacuations?" Of course, nice people don't talk about these things and however they handled it, they wouldn't consider it anyone's business. The diary entries end.
I don't want to be an invisible voyeur or arouse any prurient interest, I would just like to know how they accomplished our basic personal habits. It would no doubt be that they couldn't envision any other way, given the circumstances of human nature. (I was chatting with a man from Cleveland, Tennessee who told me he wore dresses until he was six. "All the little kids did. We didn't have an outhouse across the fields when we played so we'd just pull up our skirts and squat.") That I can envision - but not wagonloads of hundreds of cold, wet, sick, travelers wearing heavy dresses and full length aprons.
Of course, they had a dream. And they knew when they reached their destination and built their "little house on the prairie" they would also build an outhouse - considered a really modern facility after the trek across mudlands, desert, prairie and mountains.
So much for wishful thinking. My wanting to know about then - and knowing things I could tell them about now - is just about as unimportant as which way we should hang our toilet paper: over the roll or under the roll.
Speaking about rolls: that thought was a trigger and I was on a roll. Or, maybe it was the chilled wine and warm ambiance of my local Bistro where I'm not invisible.