What does writer’s block feel like?

What does writer’s block feel like?
(or The Scariest Thing Ever, Almost, Sort Of.) 

Writer’s block feels like there are words and ideas taking over your brain, but they are all dead ends with plot holes the height of a friendly brontosaurus and the width of a hungry blue whale.  It is wishing that you could hook some sort of computer or robot or magical quill up to your mind and have it compose the thoughts and pictures that lay deep within, the ones you don’t know how to put down on paper.  It is a frustrating hollowness, one which looks rich and full on the outside, but crumbles like a disappointing chocolate rabbit once you break through the shell.

Writer’s block is the paralyzing fear that this thing you’ve told people is your hobby, your interest, your life goal is something that you’re not actually all that good at performing.

It is, in reality, one of the most frustrating feelings in the world.  You know you have the skill and the ability, but the content escapes your very grasp.  You’re left fumbling with thesauruses, wondering if the words you were able to compose in your head just a day, an hour, a second ago will ever reappear in a form in which you can write them down.  The words are never good enough, the plot holes are never stitched closed with thread binding enough and your characters are never lively enough.  There is an ideal that you have created from reading both poorly and well-written works and that ideal is something you cannot live up to.

And then there is the occasional breakthrough, a piece or a portion of a piece that you enjoy both writing and reading.  This understanding of what proper writing is makes the blocks all the more difficult.  They seem insurmountable at times, but pressing through is a part of the process.

It’s easy to give up for a time, but impossible to give up for a lifetime.  Writing, if it’s something you truly love, will come back to you in some form or fashion eventually.  And, that means eventually pushing past the blocks and the barricades and letting go and maybe sharing some pieces that you aren’t entirely proud of.  And, sometimes it means changing your style or writing the way you talk or ignoring grammar conventions in order to get your thoughts down.

Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.  It is always scary, often frustrating, and on occasion really fun.  When the words come to you and you’re able to weave them into a delicate tapestry, to manipulate and play with them like a child in the sand, to finally put them down on paper, it reminds you of why you write in the first place.  It is an infuriating, frustrating craft.  But, it is at the same time the way in which you know how to express yourself.

And so, you work past the blocks, one bit at a time.

The smell of a place you love

The smell of a place you love
(or Green Things)

I have several favorite places and, interestingly enough, the first things that come to mind when I try to think of my favorite places are the scents I associate with them.  I find smells comforting in a way.  They jog the memory like very little else does.

The smell of strong coffee will forever remind me of early mornings spent with my father before driving to homeschool co-op.  At the time, he and I shared a bit of camaraderie that now seems buried in time and circumstance.  One of the ways in which we bonded was through our caffeine consumption, and we often shared a pot of coffee on the mornings when I had to go to co-op.  My favorite place at that time was a combination antique store/coffee shop called Shoemaker and Hardt that housed everything from live finches in old birdcages to antique glass eyes to lattes.  My father and I made several trips to this store simply for the coffee, and the smell of coffee and sugar constantly reminds me of this time period.

I have to say, however, that most of my current favorite places involve nature in some way and, as a result, smell green.

I have participated in the argument of whether or not green can be a scent on more than one occasion, and I maintain that is absolutely is a scent.

Green is the scent of a broken dandelion stem, milky at the rip, with the petals slowly wilting, torn away from the nutrients of the earth; it is the smell of cut grass and heat and lush, sharp, fresh things.  Green is refreshing without being cloying; it doesn’t hang in the air like the scent of jasmine or honeysuckle, but wafts by on a light breeze.  It is comforting, though subtle, and reminds me forever of spring and summer and sunshine and warmth.  It also brings to mind thick foliage, trees and trails worn down by a thousand feet plus my own.

These types of places, hidden from the world by leaves and needles and weeds I usually regard with the appreciation generally reserved for roses and lilies, are usually my favorite places, so the smell of green, of plants and herbs and living things, is one that I find more lovely than any other scent.