Writer's Block

If you couldn't tell from the massive chronological gaps that tend to fall between my posts and kind of resemble the ever-elusive fossil records of missing links, I am not exactly immune to writer's block. Okay, well, in that case it's more of a lack of ignition fuel rather than a failure to finish a thought, but what's the difference?

Right now, I'm trying to write a rough draft of a creatively formatted argumentative essay. First things first, I am not into creative arguments. I like to say what I have to say and own my words. The whole idea of giving my thoughts to a fictional character smacks too closely of ventriloquism, and I am not a ventriloquist. I can't do the "speaking with my mouth shut" thing. Plus, it takes twice the brain power because I have to attend to the balance of two simultaneous threads. One is the meat of my argument and one is the personality of my character. Is it obviously distinct? Appropriately gruff? Can you stomach his argument even though he's a bit of a snob? I like a world in which the quality of an idea determines its ability to be received rather than the character of its proponent, but the Sophists demonstrated that my world is an idealistic fantasy rather than a likelihood.

So second things second, I am stuck. Calling everybody stupid is not a good way to make them like your character. And I have realized that my understanding of the past is extremely biased because the people who have been elected to represent various eras are, generally, those who were more cultured. Writing was not a middle class profession in the 1700s because they barely had a middle class. So how can I judge the present state of education in classical knowledge when the reality is that it probably hasn't changed that much? Sure, C.S. Lewis can toss out references in French and Latin without bothering to translate them in his Allegory of Love, but chances are decent that he had a far better education than most young men of his time, and he was an academician writing to other academicians so he could afford to assume that his audience would understand.

Where does that leave me? With the startling revelation that my topic is crap. Baseless, structureless crap that I am forcing a misshapen, ill-formed character to surround himself with so that I can write an argumentative essay. No wonder I have writer's block. It was just a matter of time.



I smelled my past this afternoon,
A lost thought that floated in
Through my open car window.
Sometimes I get the impression
that I'm growing older.
On days like today, though,
Days stained with cut grass musk,
I know it's what I've always done.
Like a song stuck in someone's head:
Doomed to remember myself
Until at last I forget.



Sometimes I think we should change the way we analyze plot structure. It seems overly simplistic to dwell on actions and descriptions; after all, people are more than what they do. Somehow, to speak of a story in terms of expositionrisingactionclimaxdenouementconclusion feels cold, calculating, empty. As if a story were only the sum of its parts and no more than that. I guess all I'm saying is that

Every story is a timeline of brokenness, and every ending takes a stab at hope.



There is something innocently sweet about an eyelash when it has lost its roots. I hate when I have to pick off all the strands of hair that I've left on my pillowcase after a good night's sleep, but I can't begrudge the delicate arc of a lost eyelash. They're funny like that; even when they're not surrounding your eyes, they make a statement.

I just watched Dirty Dancing for the first time. I know, I'm almost twenty-one and, guess what, I've never even seen Grease, which is probably a crime against humanity or at least against culture. I don't think I can really recommend the movie, to be quite honest, and there are a lot of tangents I could go down, but I think one of the significant reasons why that movie works is because it has a lot of hope. Sure, it's a fairly standard bildungsroman, with Baby as the wide-eyed idealist pitted against the jaded but alluring society of the camp staff with their gritty tragedies and local horrors that can't be cushioned against like Vietnam and war. She is quickly drawn in by her attraction to Johnny and the rest is history, except it kind of isn't because movies aren't like real life and instead of letting herself be changed completely by the prevailing sentiments, she maintains her optimism and manages to not only be changed but also to change others.

It is easy to feel tired when everyone around you is something else entirely. I have a dear friend who is so unlike anyone I've ever known. She is tenacious, determined, funny, and intelligent, and she stands out because she is swimming against the current instead of letting it take her where it will. Sometimes she doesn't get it right, and she's humble enough to know when, so that mostly she tells me about her failures. But I like knowing that she's alive being stubbornly who she is (and she would probably hate that I'm describing her that way). She's like my Baby because she gives me hope.

You see, an eyelash is an eyelash wherever it is. It's not entirely out of place on my pillowcase, but if I found it on, say, a brick: its rough surroundings would only highlight its delicacy. Baby means something because she is who she is wherever she is. My friend means something because she doesn't want to change in any of the easy ways, so she's willing to tough it out and be who she is no matter what. And they all make me feel like I can do it too, because I lied about Dirty Dancing being a bildungsroman. The world doesn't change Baby- Baby changes her world.