Writing Blocks


“Echinacea in the Field” © R.L. Herron

I haven’t written lately, and that bothers me. I don’t just mean here, on this blog. I mean anywhere.

That probably doesn’t bother most of you, but it’s an extreme annoyance to me. I like to write and, when I left the nine-to-five grind, I planned to do it, quite judiciously, every day. I have so many stories to write.

I even wanted to add to this blog at least once a week.

Yet lately, every time I’ve sat down to write, nothing comes to mind. I’ve been telling myself I have nothing left to write about. My thoughts have gone dry. I’ve even thought of quitting my writing entirely. But that’s just not me.

I write because I like to, but also because I need to.

So, what do you write about when you don’t think you have anything to write about?

That’s when it hit me. You write about not being able to write. It’s not vanity, or super egotism. It’s merely following a simple prompt and seeing where it leads.

Once I started, the thoughts just seemed to form in my head, without conscious effort. I started thinking about things like my grandchildren, and how wonderful it feels to watch them run and laugh. About how marvelous it is to see them experience things for the first time.

Things I long ago started to take for granted.

I began to think again about my own childhood and the things I’ve discovered about the world, and myself, over the years.

I thought again about several of my old neighborhood friends, and that led me to think about the lovely young woman who consented to be my bride, and – suddenly – I began to reflect on all the joy and sorrow we’ve seen together.

My late father came to mind, and with his image came a flood of memories about him, his family, his adventures, our adventures.

And, just like that, I realized anew that the stories are endless. All it takes to write, beyond an understanding of punctuation and grammar, is the resolve to sit down and do it.

You find, instead of a field consisting only of dull, uninteresting weeds, there really are flowers scattered about that are worth mentioning, and many things to share.

With any luck, you do.

 

 

5 Responses to “Writing Blocks”

  1. Ron Herron Says:

    Thanks Snyds, Peter, Ed and Jo! Writing truly IS grand!

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  2. Snyds Says:

    Hey Pincus,

    Funny how just a small part of someone’s writing manages to hit home. When you wrote briefly in your Writing Blocks blog about your childhood as follows ” . . . I began to think again about my own childhood and the things I’ve discovered about the world, and myself, over the years. I thought again about several of my old neighborhood friends . . . ” it reminded me of a letter I wrote very recently to a lady I’ve never met – a lady I never knew even existed. She is the widow of a childhood friend. It went like this – – – –

    _________________________________________________________

    April 12, 2010

    Dear Mrs. Volpe,

    I was saddened by the news of Tony’s death when I read of it yesterday in the letter from U of D High. Although we were in the same year at the High and also both went on to the University at the same time, it’s unlikely Tony ever mentioned my name. We rarely did anything together during high school and probably never during college. I don’t suppose I’ve seen or talked to him in over 40 years.

    But there was a time – – – –

    Tony and I were the best of friends during our elementary school years in Detroit at Bow School. I lived on Prevost just a half block from the school and his family lived on Winthrop – I guess three blocks over. As I recall there were five of us who were in a “club” together (thankfully, we knew nothing of gangs). There was:

    Tony “The Tiger” Volpe
    Tom “The Bomb” Snyder
    Stan “The Man” Trager
    Harold “The Worm” Herman
    Warren “ ??? “ Kelly I’m sure he had a nickname but I can’t remember it. Red?

    I wonder if any of these names are familiar to you.

    Many were the Friday nights when we had an overnight at one of our houses so we could watch together the scary movies on Shock Theater when it came on late at night. Before that we would play hockey in the basement – sometimes with a rubber or tennis ball and sometimes with a pair of rolled up socks. Sometimes with hockey sticks but usually just kicking the ball because the sticks often broke furniture, lamps, etc. Harold actually played goalie on a real team and he got us out on the ponds across 8 Mile – now all office buildings. None of us, except Harold, could skate worth a lick but we did play with an actual puck. No lifting, however!

    Sometimes Friday night was fight night at Warren’s house. He owned boxing gloves. Everybody went timed rounds against everybody else. One guy acted as referee and the others were the judges. Bloody noses were common as well as more broken furniture.

    There were still a lot of vacant lots scattered around the neighborhood and on Saturdays and during summer vacations we would dig tunnels and build forts for war games. Weapons were anything that would shoot something – even large rubber bands – okay sling shots. We weren’t supposed to aim for heads but – – –

    We even did a few things that didn’t cause bodily harm. We were all on TV once. There was a Saturday morning sports show. I think the host might have been named Don Wattrick – something like that. I wrote him a letter that had something to do with the Tigers. I actually got a telephone call asking if I wanted to be on the show and I said sure if I could bring my friends. I think all five of us got to go. We were lined up outside in the alley behind the studio where they did these fan interviews. I don’t remember anything about what we said but we were sure Big Shots in school for awhile.

    School. I think we were all pretty good students except for Music class and Friday gym when it was dance day. “Citizenship” may have been the toughest subject. Talking, horse play, writing and passing notes didn’t always go unnoticed by teachers. There was even a “code” for some of the notes that had subjects that were more secret. I suspect the teachers broke these codes rather easily. The teachers could also write notes. We all got them sent home from time to time to be signed by a parent and returned.

    Speaking of notes they got us in major trouble one time. We all missed school on the same day one day – I think it might have been in 1959. Kids don’t worry or think of the “red flags” this would send up. We skipped school and went downtown on the bus to see the movie Pork Chop Hill. I think it was a Friday. On Monday we arrive in school with our absence excuse notes – some self-written or perhaps sister or brother written. None parent written. It took the teacher and very soon the principal about four seconds to bust this crime wave wide open. There were no notes home this time. We had been promoted to phone calls home. The carnage on Pork Chop Hill was nothing compared to that on Prevost, Winthrop, and some other nearby streets!

    One of my favorite memories – because it was so really cool for a kid – was to go to University of Detroit football and basketball games with Tony. Because his dad was the equipment manager we were allowed in the team dressing room as long as we stayed out of the way in the equipment storage areas where his dad worked and where his office was located.

    I remember his dad made wine in their basement. I remember Tony and I occasionally sampling it. And I don’t think we even got busted for that one.

    I remember we pretty much continually antagonized his sister – Nella (?). We’d do boy things until she was so angry with us that we had to run for safety. She may remember me.

    Perhaps these reminisces will tell you something you didn’t know about Tony – maybe bring a smile or two.

    I wish I had found a way to get in touch – to reconnect – with Tony. It’s my loss that I didn’t do so.

    _________________________________________________________

    Just as a follow up I did receive a wonderful, thankful note in return. If Mrs. Volpe was truthful – and not just kind – my goal of getting her to smile was most successful.

    Ain’t writing great!

    Snyds

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  3. Peter Wallage Says:

    “All it takes to write, beyond an understanding of punctuation and grammar, is the resolve to sit down and do it.”

    Absolutely agree, Ron. But I would add one more thing: Think like a professional.

    Professionalism isn’t a matter of whether or not you get paid for the job, professionalism, as you must know from your marketing days, is a state of mind. It is a complete and utter conviction that you can do the job and do it better than the competition.

    Someone, I forget now who, said that a professional is someone who is able to turn out their best work even when they don’t feel like it.

    In an interview the late Humphrey Bogart put it: “I’m an actor, so when the man says act, I act, even if I feel like crap”.

    If you think like an amateur (using amateur in the true sense of someone who is interested in something just because they love the subject) you are in danger of falling into the cozy, cocooned trap that Shakespeare understood well when he put the line “a poor thing, but mine own” into the mouth of one of his characters.

    If an amateur is asked to write something his first thought is usually; “Can I do it?”

    If a professional is asked to write something his first thought is: “When do you want it?”

    There’s nothing wrong with being an amateur. If you want to talk about writing, discuss and analyse published writing, talk about the tools of writing such as a desk-top computer, laptop, palm pilot, mechanical typewriter, an old-fashioned fountain pen or whatever, go ahead. And occasionally, when inspiration comes, pen a few words and revise and polish them, fine. It’s a fascinating subject. A subject in which you can immerse yourself.

    But it isn’t writing.

    If you want your writing to be published and, preferably, paid for, you’ve got to think like a professional.

    So pick a subject, any damn subject, research it if necessary, aim it at a particular market, then give yourself a deadline and write.

    Deadlines are of paramount importance. Magazines, and even more so newspapers, work to tight deadlines. When eventually you’re established and start getting commissions you’ll be given a deadline. Once the deadline has passed, even by a few minutes, your copy is waste paper – and your name is mud.

    The market is big. But so is the competition. And a good professional will always beat a good amateur.

    Peter Wallage

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  4. Ed Markowski Says:

    Ron,

    First a question ….. Did you ever see Trading Spaces when

    Paige Davis was the hostess ?

    Second a suggestion …. When the designers remade the rooms,

    many times they said they drew their inspiration from an object in

    the room. As applied to writing & writer’s block, the next time you

    see a Snickers or Milky Way wrapper go back in time & trace

    the journey the wrapper took to its final destination. So, find an

    insignificant object and tell its story, let that object be your

    inspiration.

    Third my second suggestion … Go to a diner … request a booth …

    while eating, drinking, listen to the conversation in the booths

    behind & in front of you. When you get home ….

    Write what you remember of that conversation.

    Fictionalize what you don’t remember.

    That which you fictionalize will be your voice.

    If want, you can also introduce other voices …. the waitress, cook etc.

    Ten days ago we had two guys from plant operations on our

    floor. These guys were having a hell of a time trying to fix

    a hinge. They were loud agitated & the four letter words were

    flying. Well, that episode is going to be my next short story.

    So, if you experience another dry well ( which you will & I will )

    see if either of these suggestions can shake a few apples from the

    tree.

    A few short poems below,

    Ed

    *********************************************************

    Earth Day

    My Grandson Plants

    A

    Cherry Tootsie Pop
    *********************************************************

    salvation

    saw the light !

    with the exception

    of

    nothing there was

    nothing to see

    *********************************************************

    happy hour

    a woman in a red in a wig in silence in a storm

    in the window at Frank’ s Silver Fox Lounge drooling

    over Evan Williams at dusk.

    ***********************************************************

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  5. JoAnn Dodson Says:

    I love to write too. Must be a genetic trait. Like you, I’ve had times, when life seem so hard that it was impossible to write. I am there now. I do love your website and your blog and know how it feels to be wanted. It’s been many years since I’ve felt that way.

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