I have writer’s block. I’m desperate. My laptop whines in protest as it begins on its 5th day in continuous operation. Sorry.
To give you an idea of how desperate I am, I even went to the library to check out some books that deal with “Get Over Your Writer’s Block Now!!” and “10 Handy Tips to Get Your Inner Soul Flowing” and “Write! Write! Write! Easy Ways to Start Writing”.
I think what I really need is a book called “Proper Ways to Relieve Stress Without Getting Even More Stressed and Possibly Killing Yourself”.
When I trudge up the dusty stairs of my one-room New York City apartment – the elevator’s been broken for a while, not that I would even think of taking one foot into that clangy, rusty contraption – and open my door, my already-downtrodden self slumps further into depression.
Pizza boxes littered on the floor. Coke cans that I’ve built up into quite a respectable pyramid sitting on the kitchen counter. Seriously, the pharaohs and their Giza have nothing on my Eighth Wonder of the World: the Coke can pyramid. It’s almost as tall as my head; I’ve done the calculations, and it comes out to approximately 75 cans’ worth of sugary beverages that I’m sure will be the death of me one day.
If the TV was working, I would’ve watched it. Instead, I – horror of horrors! – take a random book from the dusty shelf and plop down on my weathered, dust mite-covered couch and flip to a random page. The words flow through my head and out again; I can’t concentrate on the story, possibly due to the lack of sleep. Or maybe it’s just because I don’t like books in general. Which begs the question, why the hell am I writing?
The only thing in my room that looks remotely new is my laptop. Even as my life tumbles down around me, I’ve taken care to keep my lifeline alive; my computer’s been replaced at the average rate of 4 times per year.
That’s the same rate as my relationships go. Four times per year.
Just last week, I had gone through a particularly acrimonious shouting match with Abby – was it Abby? – and it had gone worse than usual.
It was at some random coffeehouse that she had suggested, one of the trendier establishments on 14th Street – I didn’t care for it, but maybe it’s because I had to pay – and it had a great view of some hobo’s amazingly hairy rear end sitting against the floor-to-ceiling windows.
I didn’t like Abby liking the place.
We had taken up the last two stools in the counter space that was built against the wall (why do coffeehouses always have counters? Does coffee taste better if it’s drunk sitting against a wall? I think not), and we were sitting around slightly awkwardly, partly because the stools were incredibly not comfy (that’s another thing – you might think the designers were either people with incredibly small butts, or Martians) and partly because we both knew that it was over. I knew it was a mistake dating a previous date’s friend. She had probably gotten the warning already. Maybe had even given her a countdown clock, of sorts.
So now I’m back in my room, taking down the few pictures that I have of her and placing it neatly in my scrapbook right next to the photos of Lizzy.
Lizzy was one of the girls that I actually thought I had a chance with, and truth be told, our relationship had lasted longer than usual – six months, which I’m pretty sure is some kind of record for me. Possibly for her, too.
I actually don’t remember why I broke up with her. I’m pretty sure I was drunk, though, which would explain why we split – apparently, I’m insufferable when I’m drunk. So I make sure to keep myself drunk 24/7, except when I need to write.
Nowadays, I just keep myself drunk when I’m writing, too. I think it comes out better this way – the writing, I mean. The vomiting, too. But I’m referring to my writing.
I’ve started building a pyramid of beer cans right next to my first pyramid of Coke cans. Pretty soon, I’ll have my own Pyramids of Giza – built next to my own River Nile, the kitchen sink. Next up: the Pyramid of Fanta.
The laptop screen flickers as I force myself to sit down in front of it and open up the manuscript that was due two weeks ago. It’s 80 pages long – not nearly enough for a book. It’s at that spot where it’s awkwardly standing between a novel and a short story. I have two options: pare it down mercilessly until it qualifies as a short story, or add some inane fluff, possibly involving the heroine’s side story in her childhood.
Two options. I like neither. It’s a situation that I’m familiar with all too well. No-win situations.
I put away the scrapbook on the shelf. The shelf is dusty, except for the space where my scrapbook lies. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing – good because my shelf actually gets some use, bad because of the reason why it gets used.
Contemplating what to have for dinner – more pizza? Bob’s Big Boy? – I write down some random thoughts on my Word processor. It’s one of the few things I can enjoy about writing – I’ve grown the ability to put my thoughts down on paper a lot quicker than others can. Perhaps that’s the reason why I haven’t gone insane already.
Although Abby had gotten me pretty close. She said to me once, “It’s a miracle you’re not in an insane asylum.” Only partially joking.
I’m sure she was happy to split apart. We were spending too much time arguing and not enough time having sex. Even though we sometimes did both at the same time, thereby increasing efficiency, it just wasn’t enough.
I suddenly have a crazy thought about calling Lizzy. I know I have her number written down on a napkin somewhere. She was never too crazy about sex (maybe that’s why I broke up with her; in fact, I’m pretty sure), although she moved like a tiger when she was. Damn.
But most of the time, she spent whatever time she had at my house either cleaning the shithole up (even the restroom, where I never dared enter and just used the public one down the street) or reading books that I barely touched, her legs resting on one armrest and her head on another.
I sift through the explosion of papers on my desk. The top third of the pile are my most recent papers, the second third consists of papers-that-I-might-find-useful-but-not-right-now, and the bottom third I affectionately refer to as the Bottomless Pit.
I find Lizzy’s number written on the backside of a Pizza!Pizza! receipt. I find the number familiar; another surprise, since I barely remember my mother’s phone number – not that I’ve called her often or anything.
I call. She picks up on the third ring. She has caller ID, I’m pretty sure. She asks why I’m calling her. Her voice sounds surprised, but not unfriendly. And suddenly, I’m at a loss of what to say. I had thought she would hang up on me, but I suppose not.
I ask her out for coffee, or something? If you have the time?
She asks about my manuscript. How the hell does she remember that?
It’s fine, I say. Of course, I’m lying.
You’re lying. She says, with a hint of laughter. And I find myself laughing, too. A little forced, perhaps, but either way, it’s the first time I’ve laughed in a while. And I find myself thinking that I’d really like to meet her again.
She says she’ll come over. She was bored, anyway.
After I hang up the phone, I – finally! – turn off my laptop. It powers down with a grateful whine.
I open the blinds. The shafts of sunlight illuminate the feathers of dust lingering in the air.
Time to break open the vacuum cleaner. But before then…
I get out some notebook paper and start writing down my thoughts, as I always have.
I have writer’s block…