Like any virus, there’s a prime season for writer’s block. It prefers dim, warm environments that evoke feelings of drowsiness, lulling you softly to a state of half-sleep. Although active at any time of day, it loves late hours (especially the post-midnight variety), feeding on lunar dew and stardust and the sound energy of hooting owls. It flourishes in silence, injured by the sounds of clicking keyboards and scratching pens. Its Circadian rhythms are uncannily accurate in sensing any impending deadline and promptly, like clockwork, shut off all cranial function and sensory feeling. Every so often, my immune system is weak, the viral season rolls around, and so it begins.
As my laptop slowly hums to life, my ears buzz, and the symptoms start. I exchange some pleasantries with my monitor. Please, take your time to load. Preparing my personalized settings? That’s so thoughtful of you. Please do continue. Oh, no, don’t let me interrupt.
The computer has quite the attitude. It’s been lovely speaking to you, Evaline, but it’s really time for us to part ways. How about I introduce you to a friend of mine? Suddenly, a blank document is on my screen, his overly whitened teeth flashing a gaudy smile in my direction. He doesn’t speak. Ten minutes later, it’s 11:30 p.m. Still, not a word.
I spin a couple of times in my chair, and then raise the seat up and down a couple of times. Perhaps the changes in elevation will clear my head. After nearly breaking my chair, I head downstairs and make myself a cup of chamomile. When I return upstairs, I realize I’ve forgotten a snack as well. It’s a difficult decision, but I choose to make another round trip. My cat is sprawled lazily across my chair when I return again, meowing furiously as I spend another 10 minutes trying to drag him away.
Finally, I make the first move. Point-12 Times New Roman, double-spaced lines, remove space between paragraphs of the same style. I even venture so far as to align left, type my first and last name, my teacher’s name, my class period and the date. Silently, I applaud my own success. Progress, at last. I’ll continue with that progress — as soon as I refill my mug of tea.
By 12 a.m., I can’t remember the names of the characters in this book. Come to think of it, I can’t quite recall the name of the book. I’m 99% certain there are two nouns in the title, separated by a conjunction. Crime and Acquittal. Betrayal and Punishment. Failed Essay and Criminal Execution.
Finally, I lose my patience, typing out any ideas dashing through my mind, filling the room with the fearless tapping of keys. At last, I find some semblance of a coherent thought, a grammatically accurate sentence on the page. A light switch flips on, my senses awaken, and I write.
As with any virus, writer’s block finds a way to hide out of sight and fester when the conditions are perfect. At the end of the entire ordeal, although perhaps I haven’t become immune, I’ve certainly proved to the snarky, smiling word processor that I have some ways to fend for myself.