Thursday, May 26, 2005

Blogger's Block

I'm suffering from writer's block.

Writer's block is the scourge of writers everywhere. Imagine going to work one day only to forget how to do your job. Imagine having to give the keynote speech at a political convention only to suffer a stroke once you get to the podium. Imagine sitting on a toilet, straining furiously, desperately needing to take that shit before your taxi arrives and starts honking. "You're on the clock!" So as you can see, writer's block is the bane of our existence. The antithesis of productivity. The opposite of writing.

What causes writer's block? Who knows? Despite its prevalence through the history of the written word, virtually no one has bothered to use their downtime to research the phenomenon. You think they would, for the sake of ending writer's block. But writers, by and large, are stupid. Instead of trying to better mankind (or at least themselves), authors would much rather write the next bestseller or (shudder) pulp novel. I mean, has anyone noticed the Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene are STILL churning out books? Goddamn, man. I think the Hardy Boys are Hardy Codgers at this point. And Nancy Drew's sagging all over her magnifying glass. Yet somehow, these books still continue to be written on a rapid basis!

Of course, there's a reason the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are ongoing series. It's because their mysteries continue to resonate with new generations. It's also because the teenage sleuths become hipper and hipper with every passing book (at least in a focus-group kind of way). Check out an old copy of "The Tower Treasure" (the first Hardy Boys book) and compare what the boys are wearing in the pictures to how they look in the latest paperback. Whereas they always looked like they were going to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in the old books, now they look like extras from the set of "Saved By the Bell: The College Years."

Funny story: when I was nine, I became really obsessed with the Hardy Boys. How obsessed? I often read the books during class. I used them for all of my book reports and used all of my library privileges on them. Every Saturday I would go to my local B. Dalton and rip my mom off for a new book. I can still remember the popcorny smell that emanated from the new volumes. Orgasmic. Hell, they're the reason I got into writing in the first place. My first attempts at composition? A slightly derivative series of mystery novels collectively entitled "Ron's Mysteries," which centered around a detective named Ron Dreyfuss. He would go around solving mysteries in such places as graveyards and toy factories. His steed was his police car (which was modeled after a matchbox car I had, and got blown up in one book in favor of another toy cop car). I envisioned all of this being spun off into a TV series starring John Stamos.

Yes indeed, I was such a hardcore Hardy Boys fan that I even did my 4th-grade social-studies-fair project on the duo, called "Growing Up with the Hardy Boys." That's where I learned that the first eight books were written by some guy named Edward Stratemeyer, and that his daughter took over after he died. They then had to rewrite most of the originals, I think for racial reasons. Since then, any litany of nobodies has contributed to this classic canon. Apparently this is standard practice in the literary-franchise industry. While I always appreciate a good novel, it still astounds me how people will sell their creativity to an anonymous monolith just to write "Love's Lost Passion of the Musclebound Heart" for the sake of a few bucks. These writers should celebrate the fact that they are able to let the words flow, as opposed to myself, who currently has nothing to say.

My Mom's always saying to me, "Ian, you need to write the next Harry Potter." Of course, what she's really saying is, "Ian, I want you to write the latest hot literary franchise so I can buy a new car and get a hot tub with jets." Hey, I am as big a fan as anybody of bestselling series. But writing is a fickle thing, not subject to the same deadlines as the quarterly earnings report. Inspiration comes out in bits and spurts, which is probably not the best analogy. Composing text can feel pretty damn awesome, but too much writing at one time can really make you tired. Okay, so maybe that was an appropriate analogy.

But what my Mom (and most other people) miss is that my style of writing is not necessarily conducive to the literature section. I am a political commentator, making my writer's block all the more pathetic. As the late Lewis Grizzard so succinctly put it: "It's easy being a columnist! There's so much news!" For example, if I chose to do so, I could write about the recent Republican attempt to pass the filibuster-buster. You'd think that the GOP's attempt to change age-old Senatorial rules for their own petty partisan purposes would spark an essay on why they are such temperamental, self-serving, arrogant, revisionist, bitter, cranky lockstep blowhards. If only I could find the right words to describe that. Things are bad when I can't even write about George W. Bush, who got into the president's chair unfairly and has since shown what an incompetent, one-track bully he is by squandering the entire world's support into two questionable quagmires at the costs of millions of jobs and thousands of lives. And yet I can't think of a single thing to say about that. How sad.

I'll write about those things when my muse returns once again. Perhaps some other day.


Flamingo Jones said...

Yup. Irony is WAY hot.

Ian McGibboney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mustang Bobby said...

Join us at The Practical Press.

Murph said...

Check out the latest issue of HARPER'S, which includes an excerpt from the Hardy Boys instruction manual so you can write your own Hardy Boys story.

Michael said...

You rang?