Posts Tagged ‘writer’s block’
September 9, 2013 | by Dave Tompkins
In 1977, O. J. Simpson thought he was going to Mars. Instead he was kidnapped and taken to synthetic Mars, staged at a CIA base somewhere in New Mexico. Or Arizona. Wherever. The American public bought it, just as they believed O. J. Simpson could be an astronaut. The transmission from Mars was all a conspiracy, project-managed by Hal Holbrook and NASA in the film Capricorn One. Accompanied by James Brolin and the assistant DA from Law & Order, Simpson escaped this fraudulent Mars in a Lear jet, only to crash-land in the desert. Last time we’d seen James Brolin in the desert, he was gunned down by Yul Brenner in Westworld, astonished that the Russian cowboy-robot was using real bullets. This time Brolin is rescued by Telly Savalas in a crop duster. The assistant DA from Law & Order isn’t so lucky. Nor is O. J. I remember Simpson’s eyebrows being full of sand upon realizing the birds in the sky were really helicopters.
I may have writer’s block. It’s not all spaceman in the trashcan as one would imagine. (One would imagine nothing, I’d think. And I would think, if I didn’t have writer’s block, or indulge in a hopeless tautology.) But I have been thinking about O. J. on Mars with sand in his eyebrows, rather than, say, geo-acoustic mapping, torpedoes, and swamp outlaws—the real concerns of my unfinished future. Read More »
November 12, 2010 | by Joshua Cohen
This week “Ask The Paris Review” received a number of doozies, including a question about writer’s block. It occurred to us we should kick that one over to a real writer—ideally, a voluble one. Joshua Cohen, author of Witz and Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto, was kind enough to share his good counsel. —Lorin Stein
I have been unable to write for the past three weeks, bordering on a month, and it hurts. More than the act of writing ever did. It hurts. More than the pain I no doubt cause others with poor literary attempts, but I’ll have to go selfish on this one, even if it is poor writing, I’d rather that than just blinking. So, do you have any tips or a potent elixir to kick writer's block? Thank you. —Ayat Ghanem
Glengoyne is a superior single-malt whisky distilled from barley that’s dried by air and not by peat smoke. This unique process results in a spirit whose oaken, sherry, banana, apricot, peach, and marzipan nose contrasts pleasingly with—who cares? You don’t want to read bad tasting notes; you want to make better notes of your own—n’est-ce pas? Thing is, there’s no single cure for the Block (this is what serious writers call it; cf. the Clap, the Syph, the Herp). And the reason there’s no single cure is that there’s no single type of Block. The Block can be daylong, or weeklong; it can last for years (Truman Capote) or decades (Ralph Ellison, Henry Roth). I can’t think of any other writers just now.
Hold on—let me top myself off.
You might take comfort from the fact that while writing can’t be forced, time spent not writing can be put to good use. Try acquiring other skills, like rolling cigarettes or reading. Learn to differentiate between scotch and bourbon. Learn the differences among corn whiskey, rye whiskey, and wheat whiskey. Learn what, if anything, separates whisky from whiskey. Ayat, take comfort from the fact that a writer does not always have to write—and not all scotch comes from Scotland.
Of course alcohol is only effective if it’s mixed—not with juices or sodas, you understand, but with narcotics. Speed weekly and hallucinogens monthly. Though the existence of ADD/ADHD has never been scientifically proven, the drugs developed to address these disorders very much exist and are excellent: Ritalin, Adderall. Dextroamphetamines and regular amphetamines go together like love and marriage, like a horse and carriage … what was I saying? Let me just swallow these. OK. One second.
Swall … owed.
Finally, Ayat, don’t discount the two greatest cures for the Block: plagiarism and suicide. Good luck!
November 10, 2010 | by Tim Wu
11:00 A.M., Oakland University, Michigan
“We don’t actually have wires sticking out of our heads,” I say, “but if you have an iPhone in your pocket and a laptop on your bag you’re pretty close. You’ve already delegated your memory to Google and Wikipedia; Facebook is there to remind you who your friends are.”
I have a bad habit. Whatever I happen to be reading influences me to a degree that is often, in retrospect, embarrassing or ridiculous. You might say I’m a slave to what I’m reading. And that may explain why I’m here with a group of undergraduates discussing whether or not we are, in fact, already cyborgs.
While these are my ideas (sort of), they are more honestly a take on Kevin Kelly’s new book What Technology Wants. I’m obsessed. He has got me talking about weird tech-philosophy stuff, such as whether we are cyborgs (see above) or whether it’s a good idea to quit technology altogether and go live in the wild.
I’m talking to undergraduates because my first book, coauthored with Jack Goldsmith, was selected to be read, campus-wide, by Oakland University in Michigan. For their part, the undergraduates seem to accept the idea that we are already more machine than man without much resistance, proving again that it is hard to shock the young. Perhaps to them, Darth Vadar had roughly the right idea.
7:00 P.M., Ann Arbor, Michigan
I hit up Twitter, where I find that I have said something insane about someone named Dorothy:
superwuster DOROTHY you don’t know shit about SHIT so fuck you.
Someone must have hacked my Twitter account. It is a bit of a surprise to see things written in my name that don’t fully reflect what I think. On the other hand, that was also the experience of rereading my first book.
A little later I notice that in addition to a hacker, I have a Twitter hater, apparently one of the students forced to read my book for school. He writes:
julianmgsantos Fuck you tim wu #crazyrhyming
julianmgsantos #whatreallycheesesme tim wu and dumb bitches
To his credit: At least Mr. Julianmgsantos appears to be enjoying Twitter. Most everyone else views it as a duty, like washing the digital dishes. Nonetheless, my appearance at a student Q & A yesterday prompted a reappraisal:
julianmgsantos Not gonna lie i hated tim wu. Until he showed up to this Q&A fried as hell. Im actually gonna read his book now
Kelly gets credit for that change in heart.