I believe writer’s block is an affectation suffered only by published authors obsessed with outdoing the positive notices from their successful novel.
So, I’m definitely not going to blame my lack of stacked paragraphs on this blog to writer’s block.
I’d say it’s more a case of topic block.
The worst sin a columnist can make, if one could call these missives columns, is to be boring.
My present mindset is everything that’s thinking about is boring.
Does anybody really want to read about me fumbling through a Shakespeare class at age 46?
Hell, I don’t want to read Shakespeare at any age let alone read about someone reading Shakespeare.
Maybe I could write my umpteenth update on my recovery from knee surgery.
Oh, what a tale. My arthritic knees hurt. All. The. Damn. Time.
I use a walker to go longer distances and a cane for shorter ones.
It feels like someone replaced my knees with two balloons filled with shards of glass and aluminum filings. I land just wrong and the things explode sending pain throughout my legs like grenade shrapnel.
My gait resembles a kid who got the off the merry-go-round after getting the rotation up to about 250 rpm — wobbly with a chance of falling.
That doesn’t make for fun reading.
Where’s the uplifting message about resilience there?
Oh, here’s a spot of uplift: I started physical therapy last week. That hurts like hell, too. I leave so tired and weak I think I’m going to have to call an Uber to drive me from the clinic door to my car.
That’s not page-turning stuff there.
I could write about how my unemployment expires this month. I should qualify for a federal extension that would keep me with some income coming in until I finish school.
But, of course, there is a hassle.
To get approved for this program you must deal with the federal government filtered through the state government, which is like saying to get to the cold beer at the back of the fridge, you must first punch through a wasp nest and then a bee nest with your face.
So, no, I don’t think I’ll write about that.
There’s always the topic of my morbid obesity.
People like to bring that up. I know that comes from a place of concern. They don’t want their friend/loved one to die — or suffer.
I get that.
I also understand my arthritis is exacerbated by my obesity.
But I don’t want to talk about it.
Know this: I’m trying. I tried a program recommended by one of my friends. I gained weight and lost money. I stopped. Now I’m just trying to cut calories.
And as many paragraphs I’ve stacked here on the topic of obesity and my diet, I really, truly, hand to higher power of your choice, don’t want to fucking talk about it.
I need no reminders of how fat I am.
I have the one mirror in the bathroom. I use the walker to get across campus.
We could talk about the weather. Wednesday was a nice day. It was the first day of fall.
I knew this because three different stories on my Google homepage alerted me to that Wednesday was the autumnal equinox.
Google rained virtual leaves across its homepage, which was almost as ridiculous as this CNN headline: “Fall: The season of cozy, delicious wisdom-inducing rediscovery.”
I’m not clicking on that link. I’m not linking to that story.
But I may change my home page to Bing. Or DuckDuckGo, which is a real thing.
To be fair, the beginning of fall is a quaint, mostly useless fact, one that I’ve noted many times before.
I wrote a lot of weather stories for the local newspaper.
Readers ate them up. I never understood it.
Sometimes it’s hot. Sometimes it’s cold. Sometimes it’s sunny. Sometimes it rains or snows.
Whatever it the forecast, you’re still going to have to live your life — especially in the age of Zoom meetings, work-from-home, and the virtual classroom.
I guess that’s my story of resilience.
Things aren’t going so hot right now.
The best any of us can do is get up tomorrow and try again.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Pshaw to CNN and its wisdom-inducing hooey. The best things about fall are 1) blankets and 2) using the oven without fear of heating up the house.
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HOLD ON.i…IN A HURRY…HERE GOES, ..GREAT TO HEAR FROM YOU…WOW…..WHEN I STUDIED SHAKESPEARB STUFF…..YOU NEEDED THE DJCTIONARY AND BIBLE…IT TAKES TIME…TO DIGEST HIS WORDS AND PHRASING..O WELL….NOT TODAY..HAVE TO SIT DOWN WITH IT….OLD ENGLISH…,,,HERE IS ONE….NOT MUCH FUN MAGEE….PAIN WE LEARN TO OBEY…..WORM AND SQUIRM…WE HAVE TOO…OK,,,ARE YOU MUCH OF AN OUTLAW…JUST SAW THE TOM HANKS MOVIE…BEST TRAMP JOURNALIST,,I MPUT TOME IN MY FB STUFF.. NEWS AROUND THE WORLD….THEY NSHOULD HAVE TALKED TOM US…..LET YOU GO.BE SAFE BUDDY…
Hey Dan –
ALWAYS good to “read” from you. I know you don’t want to talk about weight loss, obesity, or psychology, but seriously, have you looked into NOOM? That program REALLY gets into the psychology of why we eat. It’s fascinating to research. I know this is a topic you’ve covered and been counseled on more times than you’d like to count. However, I thought it worth a mention. Stay well (as well as you can).
Best wishes always,
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I tried Noom. I gained weight on it. And I’m living off unemployment. I can’t afford the fees.
Good to hear from you – school, therapy, diet, life – it’s a trial sometimes, but always worth it in the end! Hang tough! (And don’t forget, Shakespeare is available in a graphic novel format as well, e.g. https://bookriot.com/shakespearean-plays-adapted-for-comics/)
ok,, Round Two…..I remember dreaming,reading whatever…Hal Boyle….poor mans philiosopher…scrap the PHD…but for writers block,,,,would simply go to the old typewriter…Would look up….and wait for lightniong to strike…The old machine then flew…graph after graph…Now thats like old Lord BYron..his words…o Hail Muse…Hey bud,,,would you ever be a candidate for something like VocRehab monies from the state..How do they do it now…? CHECK IT OUT REPORTER.
In this world, people seem to pressure each other into talking about things that they haven’t been open to speaking about simply in the hopes that their comment will influence some sort of miraculous change, which is rarely true. I mean, if it were, I would never self harm again! Talk about whatever you want to, anything that can cause you deep upset, takes a while to open up about.
Personally, as a British person, discussions about weather are essential to daily survival. Weather changes can also be perfect analogies for mood, so when things eat you up inside, there’s always the changing world around you to fall back on. Plus, this weather coming soon, shows one of the biggest, quickest and most noticeable changes in our world every single year. If we can cope with that, our resilience to almost anything becomes that slightest bit more possible.
For me, things that help with writer’s block is reading and nature (yes, the weather), also writing random words can inspire sentences, and from those sentences, paragraphs. Even if those written things don’t amaze you, they can lead onto great things 🙂
Sorry, this is probably the longest comment ever!