The real writer’s block

It might look good sometimes, but it is only here and there, now and then. It seems confirmed as some unwritten and sworn oath somewhere that opulence will elude us to the bitter end of our miserable lives. My clan that is. A local NGO ‘ and remember these guys pay well ‘ had been in our area for a few weeks on some developmental mission. Now as they were about to unwind their said mission they were keen on measuring its success and thus wanted a play written on the issues they had covered. Seeing that this was some ‘community development’ thing, they insisted it had to be written by a member of the community, to be acted out by locals as well ‘ the kind of ‘for us by us’ thing. I had, and still have, no problems with that, because word going around the hood had it that this mission was choking with money. Being the only celebrated writer of note, in my hood, they could look no further than yours truly. I was truly honored. It wasn’t a hard decision to make I must say . . . it was a simple case of putting my money where my mouth is. The only problem is I had to deal with this blankness. Writer’s block. I mused to my almost panicking self. Where do I get inspiration? One might think the fat cheque that was most certain to come my way was enough inspiration. All I needed to do was write this miserable story, for these miserable ‘missionaries’ ‘ based on their flimsy ‘discoveries’ in a community that WE inhabit and whose discoveries WE have certainly long uncovered. And they wanted me to supposedly ‘marry facts with fiction and statistics’. I think that was the cause of my blankness ‘ the writer’s block. Why these people had to demand that I marry their fiction with facts and statistics on the ground . . . I don’t know. And to think they wanted this piece in no less than five thousand words! In tandem with their ‘theme’ Simply put, I concluded that these people wanted me in a tight spot! Maybe if I drank a little . . . who knows I could drunkenly stumble on some nice opening and get me a good story going. You will never guess what happened thereafter. Enter Eugene! There is something is really amiss about Eugene. The guy has a knack of catching at the most inappropriate times. “Hey!” I didn’t answer. Silence. “Are you ok?” I was still not interested in answering. If anything I badly want to say ‘Get out!’ “Well I am trying to work . . . to write a story’. Suspicious silence. “What story is it this time. I hope you are not writing one of those things you will keep in that corner”, said Eugene pointing to my ‘creative corner’ with apparent reference to the big heap of my work stored there. “Sometimes I feel like you waste your time writing things that nobody wants to read. I think you should refocus your writings and . . .” “This is commissioned work”, I snapped. The horror on Eugene’s face showed me that I had to explain. “Well”, I started, “ThIs! This that I am writing now . . . it’s commissioned. Not all that by the corner there”. Still I got that puzzled look. I looked down at my paper ‘ it was blank. Now Eugene gave me the sort of look that’s in between feeling sorry for someone and desperately wanting to help someone because you think they are falling into a pit of mental disorientation. “Are you okay . . . really?” Now this question was asked with great care ‘ almost as if the guy was afraid I would get up and pounce on him. “You know I can get you some help” Now I felt like this offer was an insult. Firstly I couldn’t think how Eugene of all well meaning people could help me . . . I mean Eugene being Eugene. And that I resent. “I am perfectly fine!” I insisted, clutching my teeth firmly ‘ to calm myself ‘ and hurting my jaws just a little bit. No reaction, just a fixed stare. Now I was beginning to shiver. Then I spoke with a stammer . . . that is something I have never been able to get rid of ‘ when the temper comes in, the stammer sets in too. “I . . . er . . . am . . . just . . . going through a . . . wri . . . writers’ block” “Yah, writer’s block . . .”, repeated Eugene and I could tell there was no belief in that in that reply. “Hang on, I’ll be back soon . . . with help”. And with that, I heard my door open and shut, because I had buried my head in my hands. I was struggling with myself, determined not to let Eugene make me lose my cool, and focus. I tried to think . . . about the story. I had to think. It’s crazy still how only Eugene seemed to dominate my mind. I could see visions of me slamming that chubby body against the wall in full fury. And sometimes I would be wringing that long neck . . . or the best one; I would be happily clipping that fat, nose that is always poked in other people’s business, away with a scissors . . . slowly. Suddenly ‘ in the middle of my vision ‘ the door opens slowly, and I bounce back to reality. Guess who enters . . . unusually carefully? “I have help”. And before I could even let go of my imaginary scissors, in comes a seemingly hesitant bald headed, bearded, berobed stunningly black man armed with walking stick and a plastic bottle of water. “”This is prophet Judah . . . he will help you. His powers are legendary. He has healed many . . . far and wide. I would trust him with own my life”. I don’t think I could have said the same about the prophet. Before I knew it the man was in a ‘trance’ . . . speaking in tongues and all. Draped me in his ‘spare’ white cloth and drenched me in his holy waters. Of the sparingly far and in between glances I stole of Eugene . . . the fool was beaming from ear to ear. I literally jumped from my seat, jerked by the piercingly cold ‘waters’ and that must have been my demon at work in some people’s eyes. The man’s voice didn’t make matters any less frightening for me. “Get out! Get out!” he repeatedly ordered the stubborn ‘evil’ in me. The onslaught continued, until I realized that I had to remain still for him to leave me alone. It worked. Panting and with an ‘after a long day’s work’ attitude, the prophet decided I had had enough. I think he could tell that I was a little delusioned, so he gave the final instructions to an overly impressed Eugene ‘ who immediately pledged to make full payment without fail in the not so distant future. A mouthful of the holy ‘waters’ was gushed down my throat leaving me gasping for air, as Eugene walked my benefactor to the gate. Needless to say, I don’t remember the remainder of the day’s goings on. I only woke up feeling really inspired and wrote until my poor palms went numb. The creative juices were flowing like the river Jordan. I poured myself out . . . facts, statistics, fiction and themes et al. The whole rejuvenated process was brought to a screeching halt by the drama that unfolded next. A sudden commotion outside got me instinctively aware that our ‘Men on a mission’ were here for their story. Just in time. I was already counting the crisp bank notes in my wandering mind. “Is the story ready, we need it performed in 2 hours?” the one looking like the head of delegation inquired. Ready, as a corked gun, to fire, I was tempted to say. I simply stretched my hand and handed them their story. I kept my hand stretched, expecting reciprocal gesture . . . the symbiotic ‘do unto others as you would like them to do unto you’. The guys were leaving. I WAS PANICKING. “My money!” I heard myself say above all that commotion and excitement. The place went dead silent. I earned some ghostly stares. “There is no money involved in this . . . I thought you understood that this is a community developmentally driven objective aimed at rationally finding ways and resources within local environs which societies can use with minimum, or no, financial obligations to uplift their standard of living.” I was stunned. Worse still when I learnt that that hastily put up group to perform my masterpiece was to be called “Strugglers Theatre Productions. Well, for me, it meant the struggle continues.

June 2006
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