Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mentally blocked. Agin



Things seem to run in seven-year cycles.
 
Fourteen years ago, on a cold November morning,
I gave up writing. This after a publishing streak where I went national.
(John Cleese: For every success, there is a corresponding failure). At the moment of my success, I suddenly became a crashing failure in keeping the success up. Suddenly, the "helpless, can't write!" syndrome.
I did eventually pick up, but there had been  a seven-year drought. "I am a blocked writer, Martha!"
A fireman with no hose, a traffic cop with no whistle, a smoke shop with no matches.
For seven years,  I was dangerous to myself and others..
Try as I might, I couldn't be at least as good as my last piece. In fact, I got a severe mental block and couldn't get past "See Spot run" because spots seemed suddenly before my eyes. Blank paper. And for years.
It began to affect my teaching. Students began to notice my  by-now apparent loss of identity as a writer (I couldn't get it up, editors jeered).
There was only the palliative of teaching.
...And the student
s knew.
"You don't know who you are, jeered the Newfie chick. "I come from a family of twelve--and at least I know who I am. Stop wandering aimlessly. Stay on topic."
I had given up writing, surrendered the vows, was close to losing my identity.
I went to a shrink, and he suggested I was "success shy" and kept writing on his pad.
"But Doctor, this is what I do. And now, I can't do it any more."
From my Liverpool doctor, the answer was laconic: "Do some weed. Become a communal farmer, become a real asshole."
I knew I was already good at this. Just ask my  wife.
I was at least blessed with a wonderful partner. We were soon at an island cottage, where even there, I would stare at blank paper. "I am a blocked artist, Martha." "I know." She was a patient woman, but I could almost read her thoughts. All artists are assholes. Why did I marry one? Such a success at college. Such a success at teaching. And now turning over a new leaf only to find it was the same old leaf. And soggy.
"You're going to have to get  a job, baby.
The artist thing isn't playing itself out. You've dug your  last hole, Mole (I think she got that from Willie Elder, the MAD genius).
Well, at least there was the driver- instructor thing after the college burnout. This I could do. Seven years of it, till we moved back from the cottage,  back to the house. I found some old envelopes in our  dusty attic, where I kept searching for something.I began to write on the  dusty back of them.
Migod, a short story. I had to tell Martha.
My wife loved the script and  was soon carrying  a copy in her purse. Her father was a published writer.
I got the call from the Globe and Mail exactly seven years after my breakdown.
The recovery was complete.
 
But it has now been another seven years, and the chassis is starting to creak!

11 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm getting where I don't want to work hard enough to do the writing. At least sometimes.

ivan said...

Sometimes I think writing is harder than ditch-digging. It wears you out,seems to make you somehow vulnerable afterwards.
But it's the devil we chose.

Anonymous said...

I ain't nowhere as good as my last piece,neither...

ivan said...

Anonymous,
Yeah.
Sometimes it takes a crack on the head to break the logjam.

Anonymous said...

now that you mention it,I firmly believe that Humpty Dumpty was pushed...

ivan said...

Last anonymous,

That was a damn intelligent comment!

Anonymous said...

I'm not very smart but I do the best I are...these days,however, I am but a shell of my former self...the vision of a man on a ledge,awaiting the big push...anticipation and fear,both, give cause to rise,and to fall,finally plundered and smitten by that eternal finish line...there are times we simply do not hear the crack of the starter's pistol...I am but a rider on the storm...

ivan said...

I have you on my radar.

Thanks for the comment, Tony. :)

ivan said...

Please ignore the letter below.
(My printer has broken down, so I have to go the hard way to get this copied)IJP


Ivan Prokopchuk
540 Timothy St.,
Apartment 304
Newmarket, ON
L3Y 519


Dear Esparance Kirahuzi, Nov. 28, 32023

re PGTFile # 164416-716

Probably as per arrangement, I am not in receipt of my OAS direct deposit cheque into my Newmarket bank account. I am also not receiving any mail at all, where my Canada Pension Plan cheque usually comes in. I assume that as pre-arrangement, you have complete access now to my direct deposits at my bank, as well as any cheques sent to me by mail from CPP.
My concern right now is how do I access any money left over after you or the Attorney General's office retain enough for me to have my rent paid, guaranteed, as per arrangement.
In a word, how do I access my remaining cash? Do I phone you? Can you mail me whatever cash will be left over?
Please advise.

Sincerely,

Ivan Prokopchuk


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