Thursday, January 25, 2007

the wall

Sometimes, despite the best of preparations, I come up to the wall. I'm happily writing, in the moment, in the zone, and then without warning I find myself splattered against it; it takes only a moment to comprehend that things have come to an end - at least in terms of a free-ish ride.

That's when I pick myself up (all the scattered pieces of my sensibilities; in a way it's like coitus interruptus, an interruption of immiment orgasm) and consider the wall. It takes another moment to still myself, to steel myself, before I start to climb.

Writing becomes difficult, more conscious self-consciously aware, more considered, more technique-driven and mannered. In a small way, it feels dishonest (but the truth is that all fiction is dishonest: as soon as we begin to render it in some way, it becomes a fabulation that can only hope to reflect some degree of truth - or so we hope, offering prayers to the gods of verisimilitude), less spontaneous, more artificial (like Byron's belief that a poem comes perfectly in its first draft, that to correct it or tinker or tamper or add or subtract would make it less true, of less value), but I know of no other way to scale the wall.

But there comes the time when the wall fades or crumbles or recedes or is conquered by relentless (blind?) determination, and writing becomes easier, like coasting, like breathing, like magic, enough to intimate that perhaps I have something here, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Some say that the wall does not exist, that it is a fabrication of writers who have no subject matter, nothing to write about. Or that they are constructs of the lazy, of the slothful souls who cannot focus. Some say that the wall is a state of mind, deftly dealt with by altering one's state of mind, thus alcohol, customized pills, sex, pain, exhiliration or depression, sound or silence - all these can dissolve the imagined barrier. Some say it is a matter of ignorance - that the wall symbolizes what we fear or do not know; and that the impression of something so vast and towering is a reflection of our own authorial inadequacies - to do away with the darkness, one must acquire knowledge, and so on and so forth.

Whatever it is (or isn't), it is something that must be dealt with in some way. Otherwise, those like me cannot write.

But there are rumors of people, so rare and pure, who are said to be able to write -zen-like - unaware of the wall. Or, flipped, the wall cannot touch them. These writers transmit their thoughts and ideas from brain to keypad or pen in glorious unstoppable rhythm, their self-determined cadences measured in sublime output - stories, poems, plays, essays. To them there is no wall, and so the wall has no power, real or illusory, over them. If they are real, then I can only shrug my shoulders as I return to my own realities.

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