Writer’s Block is a tough thing to handle.
The symptoms of the dreaded ailment vary in their form and severity. Currently, I’m in the midst of an attack; from the intensity of the symptoms, I would rate it at about 7.5 on the logarithmic Writher Scale of Writer’s Block. The cranium feels as though it’s filled with a mixture of brick dust, goat’s droppings and fragments of bad memories in stoichiometric proportions, bonded together into a kind of gloopy mass by pressurized chlorine that occasionally emerges from the ears with a muted but high-pitched whistle.
Strangely, no-one else seems to hear the whistle.
From decades of experience, I know that the whistle is in fact nothing more than my Early Warning System, telling me that I must desist from any attempt to write anything at all, or even think in sentences that have more than six words each.
To ignore this warning is to risk a slow, lingering descent into that ghastly hell specially created for writers by the One. I have tried ignoring the warning, oh yes! I have. And I have suffered agonies, gentle reader, against which would pale into insignificance even the exquisite horrors of watching and hearing Barkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai in seriatim non-stop for 72 hours.
To try and overcome Writer’s Block by brute force is to risk entering a nightmarish, torturous eternity sans creativity.
I call it the Aiyo Aeon.
Usually, what I do at such times is what Vyasa, Milton, Shakespeare, Wodehouse, O Henry and the rest of them doubtless did: I engage in innocuous activities.
Like, I weed flower-pots. At an earlier, more innocent age, I would have smoked weed – or pot – while weeding flower-pots.
Or, I sort out the piles of paper, books and affiliated trash that usually cover most all the furniture in the house.
Or I walk. I stroll around the house, the colony, the park. On occasion, I attempt crawling up assorted walls.
I go buy vegetables and fruit. I come home and wash them, dry them, store them away in fridge. I clean out the fridge; the loos; the window shutters. The terrace. The wallet.
I stare sightlessly at walls, ceilings, clouds, treetops, TV screen (on or off). Or I go to the library and stare sightlessly at books on shelves, or pages of magazines and journals, or at the other members sitting and staring sightlessly at me or at the walls or their books and things.
Or I listen to music. Play the guitar, drum on the dining table (the acoustics are specially good on its wood) or on chairs, occasional tables, glazed clay pots, kitchen counter, steel utensils, passing neighbour’s dog (meaning the dog is passing, not the neighbor; the acoustics of the dog’s ribs are pretty good too).
Sometimes I sing while playing music. I make faces at the mynahs, bulbuls and squirrels that gather at the windows and heckle me when I sing. The crows, credit to them, never heckle me; they only listen in rapt attention; perhaps my voice reminds them of some long-lost relative.
And if all this fails, if and only if I’ve tried every other possible option to no avail…only then do I dare try the most dangerous method to overcome the dreaded barrier of Writer’s Block.
I take pen and paper, or I sit at the desktop. I draw a deep breath or seven, put down a question, and then attempt to answer the question in not less than 10 words, within an hour.
It is a strenuous task indeed. To quote the great 11th century Roman poet Ibn Muralidhara Digestus, it is as strenuous as overcoming a two-month-long constipation. Even when successful, it usually yields about as interesting end-results, to misquote Steinbeck entirely out of context.
For instance, the following profoundly philosophical question kept me tossing restlessly all night.
Q: At what levels of molecular complexity do social constructs and practices like casteism, racism and fanaticism manifest in Reality?
Today morning, I tried to calm the feverish remnants of my mind and discern the answer by cooking baby potatoes.
It was no use. The net outcome of my frenzied cerebral processes was amorphous, dry and indigestible; as indeed were the baby potatoes.
However, even as I washed way the cindered remains of the little tubers down the tube, the answer dawned on me—like the welcome glow of light one sees at the end of a long dark tunnel, which upon closer inspection reveals itself to be the headlamp of a diesel locomotive bearing down upon one at 160 kilometers per hour. The impact was equally powerful; I tottered and clutched the draining board next to the kitchen sink for support, ignoring the three plates, seven spoons, cast-iron kadai and steel davara that I dislodged; ignoring even the sharp pain as the kadai glanced off my right knee, bounced and finally came to a quivering stop on top of my left pinky toe.
Social constructs and practices like casteism, racism and fanaticism do not manifest at atomic, molecular or even macro-molecular level. They are Unreal.
There are no Brahmin neutrons or Dalit protons, no Hindu gamma rays or Muslim alpha particles, no Aryan DNA or Australo-Dravidian RNA, no White or Black or Brown or Yellow blood groups.
Social constructs and practices like racism, casteism, religious fanaticism, and the rest are insubstantial. They are as meaningless as last week’s dream. The very terms used to define them are mere bromides to dull the senses; gobbledygook to explain away the senseless, often cruel, thoughts and impulses and deeds of humans who, in greed and ignorance and stupidity, seek to enslave others.
We need to get back to basics! To Science, the True Faith!
Alas, we can’t expect today’s bunch of political leaders or religious teachers to show the Way. Not even today’s scientists. Because, in the century-and-two-decades that have elapsed since J J Thomson discovered the electron, the world’s scientists have not only burrowed deeper and deeper into the Tree of Knowledge, losing sight of the Forest in the process; they’ve gone and drunk up all the Tree Sap, and in their inebriated state started gnawing at the Pith…thereby forgetting even the last concept of the Tree, which now totters on its frail roots.
Yet, the Tree stands. And its seeds are hardy.
We are the seeds. We can find the Way ourselves; we can shrug off the grey despair that we feel with every morning’s newspaper headlines, every TV news bulletin. We can shrug off the veils of gloom in a trice and see that all humankind, indeed, all Life, the Universe, is One. And that nothing can ever threaten the One.
Not even Writer’s Block.
Consider the following facts, gentle reader:
- All Reality is – seemingly – made of Energy and Matter.
- Matter is no more than a kind of dynamic, crystalline form of Energy; so ultimately, all Reality is pure Energy.
- We, that call ourselves humans and spend this illusion called Time pondering the nature of Reality while not cindering baby potatoes, are ourselves made from Matter; we therefore are mere manifestations of Energy. As is all Reality.
- When we sit and observe Reality, then, it’s nothing more (or less) than Energy observing Energy.
- Therefore, Matter doesn’t matter at all.
- Nor does Energy, for that matter.
Do I understand any of this crap? Does it make the slightest sense? That’s immaterial; it hardly matters.
All that matters is, my Writer’s Block, on which I have writhed for six weeks, has gone.
May the One illumine our minds, O unsuspecting readers…if there remain any.
Readers, I mean.