Accounts of a Struggling Writer in Brooklyn: Blocked, Nothing To Say

by admin on August 5, 2011

Accounts of a Struggling Writer in Brooklyn

Blocked, Nothing To Say

Sitting in his neighborhood’s Starbuck’s sucking on a vente Frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso for a quick pick-me-up in the late Saturday afternoon, he people watches intently, studying the different races of people short, tall, skinny, fat walking by the storefront’s window where his single table and chair are strategically placed for optimum viewing. He keeps his mirrored aviator Ray Ban sunglasses on although there is no sun whatsoever as the sky has taken on an overcast of grey since around four o’clock. The glasses serve two purposes: to keep others form noticing that he is staring at them as they walk by outside and the other reason? Simply to look cool (or he hopes) like the cool fellow he wishes he was, desires to be.

Five o’clock sneaks up on him faster than he had anticipated. He never would have considered people watching so time consuming! A whole hour has passed and still no inspiration to write down a single word on the yellow legal pad on top of the table. A medium-tipped ball point pen has been resting there on top of the paper, screaming out to be used, to be utilized for its sole purpose of being created but it too goes untouched. No, he is far more interested in the world passing him by outside than the most basic of writing utensils in front of him. He does posses a netbook and a laptop, but he cannot mentally juggle the task of thoughts to fingertips to computer. It just hasn’t been successful. The previous work he had completed in that fashion hadn’t felt soulful; hallow words with shallow thoughts. It felt like someone else had written them and this had left him feeling impartial to the material. He doesn’t know how other people do it, and in his early forties, more than likely he wouldn’t be changing his writing style or creative process.

“Hey buddy. Are you using this chair?”

This startles him, taking him by surprise as he was so engrossed in the masses parading before him. An extremely obese, balding Caucasian man is pointing to the empty chair, decked out in khaki shorts and a way too tight indigo blue t-shirt, protruding belly grossly accentuated by the straining fabric. He repeats the question again, not satisfied with the response time, only this time his eyebrows arch and it comes out with a generous helping of “can-you-hear-me-motherfucker” coming out on the back end.

“Help yourself.”

The man with the waist-line of equator takes the chair to the table directly across from him but not before an indiscernible mutter of some derogatory remark is made under his breath. So much for kindness, he thinks as he resumes his previous activity noticing more and more people have suddenly taken to carrying umbrellas. Duh, the overcast was a sure sign of rain to come. Why hadn’t he put that together. How could he miss something so obvious? It was almost the same problem as with his writing: why couldn’t he come up with anything new to put to paper? His attention has been scattered as of late, to this he admits. He is sure there are some obvious topics out in the street before him. With all the people walking by him from different walks of life headed to various locations around the city, something has got to get his mind going.

But nothing has and at least for today, nothing will. With a frustrated moan of aggravation and defeat, he grabs the pen and legal pad, shoves them back into his black Jansport backpack, strands up and leaves the Starbuck’s but not before noticing his newfound friend staring at him then rolling his eyes. A quick flip of the bird on his way out the door and their relationship ends on a sour note. Since moving to New York, he is always amazed at the rudeness of its residents even after living here for over a year. As a result, he has adopted some of that same I-don’t-give-a-fuck mentality, surprising even himself at some of the verbiage that leaves his mouth when dealing with the general public. This has come in extremely handy especially on the subway or dealing with The Union of Screaming Taxis Drivers. In the city, no voice equals no voice.

The smell after a fresh rain has fallen hits him the moment he steps outside; a smell he has always associated with childhood memories of him in the front yard of his families house, stranding in the center of the yard, inhaling in the strong wind right before a torrential downfall, his eyes closed, arms outstretched, letting the wind roar around him and sway him gently, him giving way to it’s will. This only last for all of two blocks, the distance to the downtown 7 train subway station. Childhood memories are drastically replaced with all the public restrooms he has ever had the displeasure of using as a wall of fresh and decades old urine hit him full force, quickly bringing him back to the reality which is the city. Taking his last gulp of fresh air before descending down the subway station’s stairs to its north and southbound platforms, he grabs the handrail for balance and takes every other stair effortlessly until he is on the southbound platform along with the scores of other straphangers heading back to Brooklyn.

His thoughts drift between work and the errands he has gotten behind on this week. He would love to say that he has been too busy with writing and being creative to take care of his laundry, trash, paying bills and general cleaning but that simply is not the case. The fact of the matter is he didn’t want to do them. The apartment wasn’t that bad and he could always drop off his laundry up the street and that would take care of those two things. As far as the bills were concerned, twenty minutes on his computer would solve that problem quickly. He hadn’t physically mailed anything in years, why change now? These problems and solutions occupy his time until his stop is announced and he grabs his bag and exits the train just as quickly as he had boarded it.

The walk home took all of five minutes and once inside his studio, hunger overtakes him suddenly. Cooking was an option (he had gone earlier in the week to the world’s most expensive grocery store, Whole Foods, and had stocked up nicely), but with it getting later in the evening and with his energy depleting, Chinese was the quickest and easiest remedy. He always ordered the same thing: combination fried rice with extra shrimp and beef ($2.00 each). The family that owned the restaurant knew him quite well and would always give him a free drink of his choice as he was it’s “numba one!” customer. Most of the time he would have it delivered, his phone ringing each time the food was waiting for him downstairs or he would go pick it up. The pickups occurred typically at night when he would place his order while on the subway; as long as he was above ground and could get reception, that is.

His apartment was quiet as always. His particular unit didn’t face the street so he didn’t need to worry about the parade of busses, loud music and loud residents that seem to never quit, especially on the weekends. It was a prerequisite of him moving there, his broker fully understanding his need for some quiet to concentrate on his work. First and last month’s rent with a security deposit to match (a disgusting grand total of 3300 dollars), he was moved in in less than a month from the time he signed the least. The studio was small but it was perfect for him with just enough room for a bed, desk and dresser. A small, collapsible table served as his dinner table. He would take it out from behind his dresser and open it when food was in order, having the chair from his desk serving dual duty. He swiveled between his food on the left and his computer on the right, multitasking nourishment and work almost nightly. Once he was finished dining, back went the table, him making sure as not to crush one of his fingers when folding it.

He ordered, ate, folded the table returning it to its home, and went back to his earlier task of finding something to put to paper. The problem now was the oncoming attack of sleep. It wasn’t here yet, but it was definitely in the mail. With a full belly, eyes growing heavy, pen growing heavier (strange, indecipherable hieroglyphics had magically appeared on the tablet before him, something he took notice of between nodding out and drooling), the inevitable truth of the day finally hit home: he had a block. A huge fucker with no out-flanking it, at least not tonight.  In his head he imagined a brick wall, much like the ones that made up his building dividing his brain in half. One half had these brilliant, vibrant, fresh ideas fighting to be released. The other half was the abyss; a void of nothingness, laziness, and procrastination just standing back with its chest puffed out in temporary victory, knowing damn well that its defense was well planned. An inhaling of breath and a quick muster of reserve energy which he was surprised surfaced gave him just enough strength to push back the chair and throw himself unto his bed. The springs gave way then regained their resiliency as its current occupant made himself comfortable.

No, today was a wash. He’ll try again tomorrow. For now, sleep was in order. Fully clothed and beyond exhausted, sleep comes easily and within minutes of his head hitting the pillow, he is fast asleep, his snoring filling the room’s otherwise peaceful silence. Within his subconscious, the wall shakes, crumbles then finally deteriorates; its debris silently leaving the space it once occupied.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jen 06.05.12 at 4:13 am

I like this. The writer is writing about his writing block and manages to write. 🙂

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>