The blinking cursor

Sometimes, you do everything right, and it still doesn’t work.

You get 7.5 hours of sleep.

You eat a high protein breakfast.

You drink your large cup of coffee.

And you sit at the desk, turn on the classical music channel on the stereo, fire up Microsoft Word, and you begin to write.

Well, that’s not quite true. You have prepared to begin to write. But there is the blank page. The blinking cursor.

But the problem is that not only is the page blank, so is your mind.

Well, maybe that’s not quite true. Your mind is never quite blank. As your therapist is fond of saying, it’s not that you have a deficiency of attention as much as you have a surplus of it. Your brain is overflowing with ideas, with stories, with plans, with things you want to try and to test out and it is all just swirling in there. How do you pick just one of them to focus on for the next two hours to write an 800-word essay?

Some days it’s easy. You have an idea or a story that has been in your mind for days or, sometimes, weeks. You can’t shake it. You just turn it over and over, looking at it this way and that way, so that when you do sit down in front of the blinking cursor, it really writes itself. You are just the medium, and you understand, briefly, why the authors of scripture thought they were inspired by God. It’s as if you are just the hands that type it, while the ideas come from elsewhere. Those are the best days.

Other days you agreed to write a particular thing – an article for a newspaper, or a review of a friend’s book, or something. And because this is for someone else, there is a deadline. You try to put it off, hoping clarity will come, hoping that it will rise through the swirl of ideas in your brain to the surface. Sometimes it does, but not on these days. No, on these days it is the day before it is due and you simply must write something, and so you apply ass to chair and you begin typing, and sometimes what you write is amazing, and sometimes it’s serviceable and sometimes legible is all you can hope for. But regardless, you did the thing, and after all, fed is best.

And then there are the days like this one.

The cursor blinks. Your ass is in the chair.

And nothing swirls up. Nothing stands out.

But the cursor blinks.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: