It is that terrible time of the month for me called ‘deadline’, and, once again, I have nothing. Dreadful word deadline, because it’s, well, got the word dead in it. Dead is never particularly positive. Deadbeat, deadlock, deadwood.
Perhaps my computer might die. Not an ideal situation, but quite a good excuse for not turning in this piece. I’m not going to use a pen and paper. The internet might die. I’d be buggered if that happened. I don’t own a printer. Or a fax machine and the sudden onset of a rather disabling bout of agoraphobia means there is no way I could make it to the internet cafe on the corner to send a few hundred words of pointless, or indeed non-existent, prose over the web.
I could die. That would indeed solve the problem. Citylife could then do a retrospective of my work. A whole edition dedicated to the genius of my past scribblings. I should dig out a decent photo for the front cover. Perhaps make a list of some pieces that should definitely be included. Nope, that’s no good. It’s nearly Christmas, and I like Christmas, I want to be around for Christmas. I also want to be here to read the editorial, eulogies and poems that I assume will be written about me in my posthumous edition. Scrap that idea.
I know, I’ll look up some quotes on writer’s block. That should encourage the muse. Good old Bukowski. He claims that “writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all”. Well, you can be the judge of that.
Other solutions to having a bit of a creative stumble are making me a bit more panicky. ‘Just get on and write something…anything’ seems to be the top tip. I think this might be helpful when one has acres of time, but the whole deadline thing isn’t necessarily conducive to the flighty free-flow of ideas to be edited into something intelligible later.
‘Get away from it all for a bit and wait for the inspiration to come’ is another frequently suggested cure. Okay, let’s give that a go. Right, I’ve just been out for an iced coffee. I had to queue behind some nurses and also decided to treat myself to a slice of banana cake. So I’ve got coffee, nurses and bananas. Not a great deal I can do with that except perhaps a rather dubious plot-point for a 1970s-style sitcom.
Probably a good idea to do a quick spell check and word count. Oh dear.
Perhaps I’ll have a quick look at the newspapers. There has to be something happening in the world to provide a modicum of inspiration. Apparently not.
Luckily for me there are a couple of editors I can rely on for inspiration when I find myself in a creative ditch. I’ll just admit that I have absolutely no idea where to start with this month’s column. Honesty is always the best policy after all. I’ll fire off an email and see what bounces back. ‘How about Hanukkah?’ was the admittedly rather unexpected reply. I really am having a bloody anxiety attack now!
I could try getting pissed. Ernest Hemingway wouldn’t have dreamt of taking up the quill before at least a couple of martinis, Jack Kerouac didn’t start clacking away on his typewriter sans margarita and The Great Gatsby would never have been penned if it wasn’t for Fitzgerald’s penchant for the Gin Rickey. Unfortunately, I need to have something written now and 7-Eleven doesn’t take the chains off its fridges for another hour.
Perhaps a dream. Lots of writers find inspiration in a night-time reverie. Once again this deadline precludes me having a nap right now, so I’ll try daydreaming. Oh, who am I kidding? Nobody wants to hear about my getting air-conditioning installed fantasy, or a new shower head for the bathroom.
Oh, I’ve got it! I’ve just come up with an idea for a perpetual motion machine that will clean the seas of plastic, provide free power for the world as well as a practical way to redistribute wealth, cure disease and end hunger. But time’s up.
Have a very happy Christmas, one and all.