I only had a few days to write the piece but there was nothing, not a single idea. I’d written lists of words inspired by the prompt word but still my brain refused to come up with a single thing.
Writer’s block was nothing new. I’d had it many times before and had a variety of techniques to get round it. I made tea and ate biscuits; went for a long walk; wrote about something else. But this time round there was no getting over the block. I felt like screaming as the word stared up at me from the page.
How could one little word be so troublesome? After all, I’d spent my whole life playing around with words. They were among my favourite things since childhood. I’d always been something of a word wrangler, inventing stories almost since the moment I could talk. The sound of words when I spoke them, rolling them round my mouth, using different accents to change how they sounded. Words gave me such joy and I had my own favourites; serendipity, lascivious, bergamot. Words that conjured up memories, words that conjured up people, words that conjured up good and bad times.
But now it seems that a single word is betraying me, which is really annoying. It’s not even as if it’s a particularly tricky word. It’s a common word, admittedly not one I use everyday but not one I had to reach for the dictionary to investigate.
It’s no good, I’m up the proverbial without a paddle. My brain is refusing to process this silly word and nothing is helping. I stomp into the kitchen and start slamming mugs and spoons about in frustration. My bad mood attracts my husband who gingerly peers round the kitchen door to see what all the kerfuffle is about. I snarl the word at him, reluctant to even speak it. He nods, looks thoughtful then requests tea as he leaves. Mumbling about stupid husbands and stupid words and stupid writing I make tea.
Later I go for a walk to calm down. Fresh air and sunshine work like a balm, my mind stops whirring and I feel ready to tackle some writing again. Not ready for that word yet; that word is still a block. I still have no idea what direction to take with that word so I’m parking it for a while. The house is strangely quiet when I open the door and I wonder if everyone has gone out to avoid the grumpy guts I’ve been today. Something else to blame that stupid word for. I open the door to my study and all the breath leaves my body. What on earth has he been up to?
Surrounding my desk are planks, logs, branches, wooden spoons, my old chopping board, off cuts from the new fence. All kinds of wood. Everywhere.
‘What is all this? I ask him as he creeps quietly behind me.
‘S’lumber , innit?’ he says, with a wicked grin.