Writer’s Block:  A condition in which a writer is either unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.

It should be so simple.  I don’t know if it’s age, the anxieties, and uncertainties of the current times, but I have lost my ability to create.  It’s never happened before.  In a forty-odd career (odd is an understatement), I’ve written twenty-two stage plays, written or rewritten over thirty screenplays, created four TV pilots and in the last ten years have written five novels, three of them published, the other two continued works in progress.  And now, I’m stuck.  I have ideas, but they don’t coagulate.  The words no longer flow.  The voices that have always been ringing in my head are no longer speaking.  What gives?  Is this solitary endeavor finally getting to me?  You go to your desk or table, you face the blank page or screen – the wall.  There are no rules or schedule, no timeline, no co-workers.  There is no one telling you what to do and what not to do (only your characters).  There are good days when you become lost in your imagination.  You take a step, and you follow Alice down the rabbit hole.  You don’t come up for air.  You blink, blink twice.  Hours have passed.  There are also days when you must work at it.  You’re not exactly sure where you’re going.  You’re doing it but you’re not sure if you’re doing it right.  Still, you know you’re creating fuel for the fire, spices for the stew.  It will be part of the mix that fuels the rocket ship when it takes off again.  Oh, and really, you’re never alone.  Your friends and co-workers are the people you’re creating and they’re constantly talking to you.

And now, this new routine.  Looking at the page.  Looking at my watch.  Looking at the words.  Clicking to the internet to check my email.  Looking at my watch again.  Minutes that seemed like hours have passed.  Maybe I’ll get something to eat. Have I scheduled some tennis?   Oh, thank goodness – a doctor’s appointment.  Is it too early for a beer?  I know, why don’t I shave my head!  Big sigh.  It’s like my brain needs a vacation from my desk and if I take it, it could be a long one.  I’m not sure I’ll return. 

Perhaps the problem is the things that once inspired me no longer hold water.  I’m no longer interested in the theatre.  The plays I see being produced don’t call out to me.  Making an 8 o’clock start time seems like too much of an effort and an 11 o’clock curtain call is way past my bedtime. Besides, I always liked creating theatre more than seeing theatre anyway, and creating theatre, working on my plays with a director and actors in rehearsal, seeing them done in front of an audience, seems unlikely now.  I am a sixty-nine-year-old, Caucasian male.  I am an old voice, not a new one.  I have been given the message more than once in the last few years that my time is over.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  The fact that I had a time at all is a lovely miracle.  Still… it’s hard to be in love with something that isn’t in love with you.

I am no longer interested in movies.  Amazing because there was a time when I rarely missed one.  These days they don’t just bore me, they annoy me.  They don’t seem to be about anything real.  The majority are about special effects, not about real stories and people, at least not stories and people I recognize.  I don’t respond to the actors.  Social media has made too many nameless faces “stars”.  Maybe it’s the movie business itself.  The egos, the unfulfilled promises.  I spent over twenty-five years working it.  It left a bad taste.

I find it a struggle to read these days. If my own words bore me, other writer’s work seem to bore me even more.  And besides, why bother with fiction when you have the daily news. War, politics, culture, finance, immigration, global warming, right versus left, left versus right, woke versus asleep, opinion and commentary, all splayed out for you under headline titles that would do the cover of a grade B mystery-thriller proud.  I’m sorry to say that for me the news, unlike fiction, movies, and theatre, has become the drug that perpetuates craving and weakens self-control.  It wakes up with me in the morning and nods off with me at night.  Putting renditions of it on the page or watching it on a stage or screen has become unsettling.  The real world is a shadow that makes it difficult to suspend disbelief and conflict, even imaginary conflict, is disturbing. 

Excuses, excuses, excuses. 

Truth be known I have never written about the world.  From the very beginning I wrote about people.  Or rather, somehow I created characters who wrote about themselves.  I am not in search of inspiration, I am in search of voices.  Voices that have a story to tell.  Keep looking, keep listening, Stephen.  The voices are out there.  So is the laughter.

Simple as that.

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