How a gum ball bulldozed my writer’s block

So, there I was, at the Laundry, in the pretext of helping my very sweet husband, who ends up doing laundry all the time, week after week, month after month, simply because his wife, who was driving like a maniac back home in India, refused to take her license as she wanted to complete writing her Novel. Well, now that she has completed it, at least the draft, she has cleared the knowledge test, and is now waiting for her road test day. Some progress that is.

I decided to accompany my husband due to two reasons. One, I was depressed; to use the right word. Mighty sad that I wasn’t writing anything as such, let alone, finish editing my Novel draft. I have been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and been day dreaming about her in my editor’s shoes. I have high hopes about my Novel, I believe there is a beautiful story out there, but I know with a certain amount of certainty that it’s not yet there, and I cannot start sending it out to agents and prospects. But, how do I make the next step? I open my manuscript, and end up reading the best chapters, ignoring the ones that need more digging, more pruning. I don’t know how to move forward. That’s when I thought stepping out, living like an ordinary being, getting busy with daily errands like washing clothes could help put my life back in order.

The second reason was more compelling; the need to have my house in order, to see it spic and span and to feel elated seeing the empty laundry basket. My mind refuses to work in a cluttered environment. Somehow, I am wired that way; that’s what I tell my husband when he expresses his alarm over my sense of cleanliness and orderliness. When I launch an attack on him for putting his shoes right in front of the shoe rack, and never on one of it’s racks, and when he retaliates every time, that’s what  I give as an answer. That my mind doesn’t work, buddy, I am wired that way, sorry, can’t help it. I ‘m wired this way too, so, what do I do, buddy? He asks me. I have my answer, but then I am too busy with my thoughts, I give up. So, when I see the laundry basket begin to get filled up, I start dreaming about a clean basket, the clothes washed, dried and well stacked up in their respective columns in the rear end of the dark closet in the master bedroom.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was writing passionately, poems, one after the other, when Spring was just in the air, and when buds had just started to appear. That was the time when I thought I could write on and on, and wondered how I would even take a break from writing, if it came to it. The previous day of my knowledge test for license, I remember getting lost watching streams of bright sunlight come into the room, through the partially opened windows. I opened the blinds completely and took a few moments to take in the beauty. Completely captivated and swept off my feet, I started writing a poem about what I saw, about what I felt at that moment. Just then, my husband walked into the room, and I had to stop in between, and revisit it later, when none was noticing. I had my test the next day, well and good; I was inching closer to finishing my preparation, true, but what could I do, when inspiration struck with such intensity? What happened in the next couple of days has been saddening. I stopped my poem midway, but passed my knowledge test and now I am driving quite well, but, that’s not what I am coming to.

I am trying to explain about my writing block. And see, how I keep going round in circles. Does that say anything about my problem? I think it does. That’s what a writer’s block is for me. I started writing at a steady pace roughly two years ago, and since then, I have been writing pretty well for my own standards, getting better at it, with every new paragraph written. But for the past few weeks, I am wallowing in self pity, blaming my circumstances for my inability to write. I open my manuscript, and end up going round in circles, reading from the last page to the second last, from the third chapter to the fifth, and then basking in the beauty of my own writing. In between, I open a new document, and start working on a new topic, just to ease my anxiety. For some reason, I have not even been able to complete a poem; one about an evening walk that I started the day before. And, then, there are a couple of articles; travelogues that are far from complete or satisfactory. I begin uninspired, and I end up totally shattered. The realization that if I don’t write, I perish begin to haunt me increasingly, and then, I start thinking about the brevity of life, and about my dreams unfulfilled. Well, that only worsens my problem. I end up going round in circles.

Coming back to the Laundry; we chose two washers at the very entrance; the ones near the gum balls. How colourful! We spoke about our son, the almost-nine year old, who pleads for gum balls every time we go for laundry and how both of us valiantly retort, and explain to him the perils of eating such junk, such toxic trash. I recollected the way his face would end up in a twisted fashion, all the happiness wiped off suddenly. But then, there I was; right in front of the gum balls, depressed every bit about my unfulfilled life, looking for a little bit of sunshine in my life, one that could eradicate all the darkness, all the brooding over.

I took pleasure in asking my husband for permission and for a quarter dollar. I decided to take a break from swathing in self-pity, from my depressing thoughts, to enjoy that burst of sugar and sweetness. I decided to have a gum ball. The truth of the matter is, whenever I spot gum balls, I get an urge to have one, but I resist, as I must show a good example to my children. I did it a couple of times, I mean, I resisted the urge to ask for gum balls, and then, it became a habit. How I managed to kill the child in me, so mercilessly, so mechanically?

My children weren’t there with me then, so no fear of being the bad parent. I want a gum ball. I proclaimed. What? Seriously? Gum ball? No way. Well, how could he dictate what I wanted to eat? Ok, I didn’t want to let go in that tangent, so I quickly said, what if it breaks my writer’s block? I am stuck big time, you know. Well, silence followed, and then, in quick succession, the clatter and clamor of quarters finding their way to my husband’s opened palm from the coin dispenser.

What if it breaks my writer’s block? Something said at the lark of the moment, without much thinking did break my writer’s block. What followed next was truly enlightening. I lived in the moment. I got a bright yellow gum ball and as it’s juices began filling up my mouth, I closed my eyes in bliss, in sheer abandon, I lost myself in there, in the syrupy yellow liquid that took me on a near high, for a moment, I forgot my worries and really enjoyed that moment. I lived up to it. Something about that yellow gum ball changed me. It charged me up. It ended up being my bit of sunshine.

I decided to write about it. But even when that thought flashed my mind, I didn’t really mean it. But here am I, writing about it, seamlessly, without feeling that a block did exist; once upon a time.

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