Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Writer's Block: An Academic Misadventure

1. Writer's block, if there is such a thing, has become a source of income for MSWs, Ph.Ds, and MDs, also so-called inspirational coaches and possibly even chiropractors and accupuncturists.

2. Writer's block means the writer at the moment has nothing to say, or not enough to say at the moment to overcome the inertia of musing.

3. Musing is the literary equivalent of teen-age swagger on Friday night, cruising in search of an idea that will generate enthusiasm.

4. The derivation of the verb is from the noun muse, of which there were, as I recall from Classics studies, two at the start, then three, then, count 'em, nine.

5. My Classics Prof, a serious take-no-prisoners type, was not amused--pun intended--by conceit of a Woman's softball team called The Nine Muses. (For reasons lost to me now, it seemed proper to have Thalia in center field. Perhaps because of her associations with pastoral matters?)

6. Anthropocentrics that we are, we expect that enough early courtship--musing--will get us a date with the appropriate muse, who will present us with an idea that works right out of the box, something like removing the MacBook from its carton, firing it up, and receiving spam within five minutes.

7. Muses have work of their own to do besides inspiring us. This may have something to do with budget cuts. The old man, Zeus, has racked up a number of sexual harassment suits and needs the cash. No help that he wated t permanent tax cut for some of the lesser gods.

8. You sit around waiting for inspiration, the grass under your buns is going to grow, weeds are going to volunteer, and there is the danger of irritation from pesticides.

9. Many writers are simply too busy to have writer's block.

10. Go ahead, tell me you are a complete nihilist, a condition in which nothing enthuses or enrages or entertains you.

11. Muses have kids to tend, the old man occasionally wants dinner, you know, the romantic kind, with candles; Zeus to worry about, and a tray-full of work-related activities. (I was once editor in chief of a publisher named after the muse of history and I'll vouch for the long days, low pay, and boring meetings.)

12. Muses need inspiration, too.

13. Sometimes we spend so much effort waiting for inspiration that we fail to notice it when it appears. And so instead, we vote for Hillary.

14. Not this kid.

1 comment:

R.L. Bourges said...

5. Thalia in center field - maybe she was the secret weapon, you know, made the opposing team laugh?

10. Always a good place to start.