iron bars and zoetropes

I have been stuck, and there seems to be no stopping the block from budging. It’s as though there’s an iron bar wedging itself in between the beautiful words that are living in my brain and my hands that type them onto this menacingly empty white word document.

Granted, I am at work. I am not indulging myself. There are distractions. But my schedule is clean for the better part of the next half hour and I want to get some practice in. So far, nothing is working. Not the brisk walk I just took, nor the cup of tea, and definitely not the closing of eyes and praying to all that’s holy to at least help some of these words materialize in a coherent way.

I’m sure all writers sometimes feel this way. Cramped. Trapped. Lame and immobile.

There are several stories floating around my head and when I attempt to get them out I feel like I’m ruining them. They exist so perfectly inside of me, but sometimes they just don’t make their way out. If experience has taught me anything it’s that this will pass, and the torrent of creation will soon bubble over again.

Maybe I should enjoy this bit of rest, try to write a little bit every time I am able, and ride out the quiet. Part of me feels like crumbling on the floor dramatically and saying oh poor pitiful me, and the other half just wants to go outside and ride bikes more with Xander when I get off of work and I get to pick him up from the Y.

I think I’ve told you about my dreams, and how they often have the same setting. The setting is a small town, that sits below a tall, heavily forested mountain that’s home to many accessible trails. If you follow the trail up the mountain, you’ll come to a red brick mansion that houses several museums under its roof. Attached at the left is a white planetarium, attached at the back is an emerald glass greenhouse, and in the front are stone steps leading up to great wooden doors. Once inside, venture to the right, and there you’ll find the natural history museum. Keep traveling past the dinosaur bones and giant amethysts, and you’ll find the motion picture and photography collection. They even have a small room, painted dark purple, with a painted tin zoetrope in the middle of the room, on a wooden table. You can turn the zoetrope, and spinning images of girls dancing on top of decorated white horses will fill the dark walls with light and color and you will be mesmerized.

If classic or contemporary art is what you’re craving, turn to the left of the motion picture and photography rooms, and there you’ll find endless galleries of painting and sculpture. Every one of them is your very favorite, and speaks directly to the center of being that lives in your chest. The couches are comfortable brown leather, and you can sit as long as you like. If you want to learn about what you’ve seen, the museum houses a full library that can be reached up a curved, iron staircase.

In my dreams the museum’s artifacts and art change, but the town below and the architecture of the building never does. I always have intentions to visit the planetarium but don’t make it over there too often. The morning alarm on my cell phone comes too quickly, and most dreams (did you know?) only last around twenty minutes at most. So much to see in so little time.

In the back of my mind I am always looking for this place that lives in my dreams. The forest is heavy with tall trees, and pine needles cover the ground. The village is quaint but filled with shops and a library, and several small places to get lunch. The ‘dream place’ or ‘dream setting’ might be the combination of all the places I’ve visited and loved, and of course I have always wanted heaven to be one giant museum/library/nature center in a national forest. But a big part of me, the part that still believes in magic and a sort of divine mystery, likes to think that this place exists and that I might live there some day. The village will be my home, and I will walk through the forest to the museum to complete my day’s work.

Maybe the muse will be kind to me soon. I hope she’s being kind to you. xo


5 thoughts on “iron bars and zoetropes

  1. Your instincts are right on track. Ride it out. I know how you feel–perhaps, not your particulars, but I know the rough outline you’ve traced here. You’re right. This will pass. Ride your bike. Relax. Love.

  2. We (writers) all have this feeling. The secret, as you know, is just to start writing, without really thinking about it, until the words and images connect seamlessly. It happened in your post – it will happen in your novels too. And the town.. I so understand this. The other day I was going to sit and write about the town that I see, which is this strange absurd version of the south coast of south australia. It’s where I want to be too. I really like the sound of yours, though. I hope it’s real so I can visit. Maybe that museum/gallery is yours. We have long lives x

  3. I feel this way too. Don’t force the muse. Just recently, I submitted 3 poems to a literary contest. The contest was looking for a short story (2,000 words!) I had the story in my head, but in no way could I write it. The contest featured my favorite writer Erica Jong, so I HAD to enter. In the cover letter I was honest and said writing my story in 2000 words was intimidating and difficult and that I wrote poems. One of the qualities the writing was judged on was honesty 😉

  4. Yes, I felt this way a couple of weeks ago. The word that always comes to mind is “limited.” It’s very frustrating, but you’re right….it will go.

    When I am stuck I usually need to take a walk or talk to a friend. Reading something new helps….I am reading The Behaviour of Moths right now and really enjoying it.

  5. Kathy – I think you’re right. I think in simplifying my expectations, and slowing down, I’ll find my voice again.

    Katie – It is just to sit down and start writing, isn’t it? I love this quote from Stephen King from his amaaaaaaazing book, On Writing: “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

    Theval2000: Wonderful! You have to stay true to yourself, and I love that you didn’t NOT enter. Good for you.

    Hannah – Yet another good book recommendation from you!! Will have to pick that one up – from the synopsis it sounds extremely up my alley (“a mix of Grey Gardens and Great Expectations”, the Amazon summary says…)…sign me up! Speaking to friends who understand always helps. And that’s exactly what you are to me! xo

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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