The Great Wall of Nothingness


                 Hello to all out there in wonderland—it’s been a while, four or five weeks. Ok, since exactly May 20th, one can’t forget a day such as that. I’ll try my best to explain.

On that seemingly normal morning,  I awoke to the sound of silence, not from my immediate surroundings, but from the usual chatter inside my head. At first, I’ll admit, that I didn’t notice as I went outside, drank my coffee and lit my cigarette (I know, I know, it’s unhealthy for me, but I’m currently reminded of a phrase I once read that seems appropriate “never chase away all your demons or your angels might leave as well’, and anyway, people participate in the running of the bulls every year, and that seems endlessly more dangerous than smoking—hope that settles that—enter inevitable sigh here), so, sitting there with my caffeine and nicotine while my cat went about checking her territory, the slow realization of the silence crept up. Curious, I thought innocently, not ever thinking once that there was an electrified, two-foot thick, three-mile high brick wall in my path just over the next hill.

As the sun began its morning ritual, and Serica was satisfied that she was still Queen of her domain, I headed in and brought my laptop to life. I opened my stories ongoing first draft and looked upon the previous days last few words. Then, as always, I reread the last couple of chapters to get my mindset and mood situated so I could move the days bout of writing forward. However, a curious event happened—and it happened quickly. NO WORDS were coming to me. Within about twenty minutes of rereading the previous chapters repeatedly,  I found myself face-to-face with the before mentioned wall—after about two hours I realized that this wall had a name and reputation; WRITERS BLOCK.

So there I was standing before this behemoth of a barrier wondering what exactly to do. I first tried to climb its vertical presence—of course to no avail. Taking a few steps back, I looked off to my right and then my left trying to establish a way around my new nemesis, but nothing.  However, with quite the supply of optimism I took off to the right and hoped I would come to an end, or maybe some corrosion in the bricks that I could slip through. I walked for what seemed like days only to find no end in sight. Disappointed and frustrated I turned back and headed towards my original contact spot with what I was now calling ‘The Great Wall of Nothingness’.

Once I reached the point where I first came across my writers block I thought I would take another chance at a way around ‘The Great Wall of Nothingness’ by heading the opposite direction with the hope that this time things would be different—they were not. But just as my hopes began sinking a brilliant idea came to me—head away from the wall—maybe it was just a sign that I was heading the wrong direction with my story. So, with this thought bouncing around inside my mind I turned around and began my journey. At first I thought I had conquered my situation; out smarted my own incompetence’s. Unfortunately, my confidence and grand smile came to a crashing halt when just as I crested a hill I could see that !@#$ wall in the distance—I was blocked in; caged like an animal. As I approached my obstacle, another brilliant idea hit me—dig under this problem that was all around me. At first I tried my luck with my hands—pulling up grass, dirt, and pebbles but eventually my fingers could no longer take the pain. I tried shovels, pickaxes, and even a little TNT: nothing seemed to work—the wall was indestructible.

Thoroughly beaten and disheartened, I resigned myself to a nearby tree (my bed) and went on a five day reading binge that ran the gamut from Phillip K. Dick to Aldous Huxley to Dan Brown to Kay Jamison to Dante and Shakespeare—anything from any genre or topic, fiction/non-fiction, and even poetry. I was diligently reading everything I could get my hands on in the hopes of resetting my creativity—by pushing the restart button the wall would surely crumble. Yet, you guessed it, when after nearly a week of consuming so many stories, ideas, philosophies, and memoirs, I was no closer to destroying the wall. I tried writing something, anything to see if this monster could be defeated by sheer dumb luck—a chance encounter with a hidden doorway within the wall, but still nothing—at least nothing worth a damn.

While pondering my dilemma one day, I decided to pull out my old acoustic guitar and let my mind take a sabbatical from the very concept of creative writing—maybe another form of creativity would pull me back into the right direction. So, I sat down, tuned her up and began playing some songs I had written years ago. I noticed a smile creeping in; a sensation of expressive accomplishment—a feeling I missed dearly, but now here it was sitting in my lap. I felt like dancing the dance of dances. After a few days of playing,  I began coming up with new rhythms and practiced them till I had them down good and tight—then it dawned on me that maybe by attempting to write some lyrics could solve most if not all of my writers block. Now, I’m not much on poetry or lyrics, so I figured if I combined these two avenues of writing that I was no good at, they might meld into something halfway decent (insert confusion here).  I pulled out some paper and a pencil (old school) and began tossing words, ideas, and emotions together to see what would spill out onto the page. Surprisingly the words came quick and with them they brought a sense of direction.

Now don’t laugh, but since I was trying to neither write poetry or lyrics as a final product; just a means to sneak back into my first draft, I decided to call my little creations—are you ready for this—LYRETRY (insert a shake of the head and another sigh). As ridiculously as my latest creation sounded, the poor little tomes were filling my days with pleasure and a sense that I was finally on the right pathway once again—how I ever got off that pathway is still a mystery to me.

After nearly a week of lyretry,  I noticed some thunderhead clouds off in the distance—not looming but instead sending a feeling of a much needed rain that would nurture and purify everything. And, sure enough as the clouds got overhead a gentle, warm, and relaxing rain began to fall. The rain kept coming at a steady and resilient pace. After a few days,  I noticed that the few puddles that had started to pop up began to grow and grow—the thought hit me like an unexpected kiss from a stranger, build myself a mini ark and float my way to the top of ‘The Wall of Nothingness.’ The future was bright again. Thoughts turned into ideas, ideas into coherent passages, and those passages are the words you are reading right now.

As of this moment, I’m floating on an ever growing ocean that is rising minute to minute and it feels damn good. I’m not quite sure, but I think the water has brought me at least three-quarters of the way up the three-mile high wall.

I’m still playing my guitar and writing my lyretry with non-stop pleasure and contentment because I now KNOW that the water will soon reach such depths as to allow me to step firmly atop the beast and begin my descent into my novel’s populated province of ‘I can’t wait to see what happens next’, and that my friends is reason to celebrate all the glories that come with writing a story—characters, the inner and outer struggles each of the characters has to go through, the time and the place, and the pace at which everything unfolds. The world is looking bright again through these eyes, and I hope it is through yours, as well.

As Auguste Rodin put it, “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” Well said Mr. Rodin, well said indeed.

Write fearlessly

About G.Edward Smith

A stranger in a strange land...
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