When The Story Dies
One Writer’s Plea
I originally intended to write a fictional short story about a frozen pond. That was the prompt given to me, a specific challenge for Vocal Media. I opened my computer and my hands were all in a frenzy and my thoughts were sailing with the metaphorical wind and oh how the high got higher and I was flying.
Well, I thought I was….
That flow, that vibe, that beautiful scenery we writers have in our mind’s-eye as we zone out and the flow of the words and imagery seem to come straight out of the light of the starry skies and right through our veins. It’s indescribable, that feeling.
But, within the first few paragraphs of writing the frozen pond story, my creative abilities became as hard and cold as the subject I had meant to write about.
I’m stuck in such a quandary that I had to immediately stop and write all of this rambling nonsense that you’re reading right now. This is literally now the last part of the story because that dreaded mental roadblock was dropped from the sky and BAM! I crashed head-first into the writer’s block and how it hurts.
Here, right now, I’m writing to either you or me……or Santa Clause. I don’t even know anymore.
I can’t write. I mean, I can write, but the expectations I placed on myself exploded my imaginative abilities into shriveled and charred bits and now I’m left creatively blind.
There was this pond and a curious girl and a soaring hawk and glistening snow and white pines and fiddlehead ferns.
Now, there’s just…..silence. That awful “I don’t know where this story is supposed to go” silence. That moment that all the characters and scenery in your mind just freezes and becomes still photographic images no matter how hard you try to breathe life back into them. But, the little figures in my head are now stuck like statues at the edge of that frozen pond and will no longer move or speak to me.
Please move, Jules. Please go find your love at the glistening iced pond, bathed in the orange hues of a snowy sunset. I poke and prod at her but she will not move. Even the hawk I had swirling overhead is now frozen in mid air. That poor bird. I’m so sorry, I was just about to feed you a field mouse.
You see, I was writing a lot lately and felt as if I was getting better. Then, all of a sudden, my heart sank when a single inkling of doubt started meandering and sleuthing around into a section of my hippocampus and screamed “YOU’RE A FRAUD”.
I tried and tried but I kept erasing the same paragraph. I read it over and over from the beginning countless times. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. A blank space as white as the frozen pond itself, just washed over my story and everything softly fell to the ground like ash.
Now here I am, still writing, but I have no beautiful story to tell you about two young girls in love in the cold Maine winter. I can not speak of the iced feather and the emboldened moose. They’ve all crumbled and I am sad for the loss of them. Such a majestic landscape that would fill your senses with wet snow and pine and Wild Sumac tea.
Now it’s just me and my screen. My fingers anxiously tapping away at the keyboard hoping to find some sort of magical inspiration and I JUST CAN’T. Yes, I just screamed that in my mind.
The truth is, I’m too hard on myself. I wanted to be more. I expected more. How dare I just give up on myself because some little fidgety neuron in my brain decided to just roll over and play dead. Or, maybe it was the years of having a narcissistic mother who never nurtured or supported me. I could blame her, right? All the years of “you’re not good enough” is a good enough excuse to give up.
No, that’s not right.
Well, what about all the bully kids in school, or manipulative ex-lovers or all of those failed friendships? No, it’s still on me. I’m 40 now and my mother is no longer alive and she isn’t the one stripping away the words from my fingertips. I’ve no one else to blame. I’m the one letting these heavy and negative thoughts act like steaming black tar….oozing and swallowing up my self-esteem because maybe I’m too used to it. That darkness. That somber weighted space I retreat to because it’s so familiar.
Why can I not find you, my enigmatic and secretive source of flow and energy that emboldens me with these sights and sounds and conversations all driven by this mushy flesh in my skull. Wake up, I say. Fire upon me your dazzling display of imagination. Tear me away from the lies I tell myself.
My Dear Mind,
I need you to stop telling me I’m not enough. I beg of you to stop letting all of those bad memories of people who hurt me long ago drown my rationality. Don’t let them slay you in this existential fight to the death.
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit melodramatic. But, I am here now asking for that spark again. It can be the smallest light, the tiniest of flames, the most minuscule amount of electricity.
Stop being cruel to yourself. You can get through this. You’re not a failure. You can slash your way through this ethereal writing clot. Push through, I know you can. Breathe life back into Jules and Gracie and that Red-Tailed Hawk. They can’t exist in the real world without you. Please?