Ever since I started writing, I’ve seen the term ‘writer’s block’ argued in one of two ways: either it’s real, or it’s not.
For me, it’s real. I know what it’s like to sit down and not be able to write a single word. I know what it’s like to have a million thoughts and feelings running through my mind and not be able to grab a hold of a single one of them. I know what it’s like to have the words in my head and not be able to write them down. And I know what an enormous struggle it can be to get a few words down in a desperate attempt to write only to delete those words altogether.
The reasons and causes of writer’s block have been debated forever but for me I’ve been blocked by either intense emotional struggles, or my mind is just overloaded with a raging storm of thoughts, feelings, and words. Either way is very hard to work through and though I understand both scenarios better than I ever have, I still remember what it’s like to go through them, and I know either one can happen to me again.
I have always wanted to be one of those writers who could write through anything but sadly my writing, unlike my sleeping ability, doesn’t work that way (there’s an old joke from my family that I can sleep through anything- insane heat and humidity, riots, and possibly nuclear war though I have doubts about that last one). But during times of huge and intense emotional struggle and upheaval, writing has been the last thing I’ve even thought about doing. Well, I thought about it but in reality I was either too exhausted to sit down and try to find my words, or worse, I felt intense guilt and fear for even wanting to make that little bit of effort.
As a woman, I have always felt there were more demands on my time than for a man. For example, my father could be loud and pushy about his writing time but I feel like if I had done that I would have been landed on so hard I would have to have been peeled up off the floor. Later on, I knew there were people who felt my pursuit of writing was foolish, selfish, and a complete waste of time simply because the meager amount of time I did take to write made me unavailable to them whenever they wanted me to be. I know now that I had every right to time of my own but that’s in hindsight. Back then, that overwhelming guilt and fear of pissing people off kept me blocked more times than I ever want to admit to.
In the years since those difficult times, I’ve struggled to write because of an avalanche of thoughts, feelings, and words that have raged like a category-five hurricane inside my mind. I know now this was just fallout and the silence after a raging battle that was like a huge echo of noise, but this raging storm took every ounce of energy I had to work through it. But I know I needed to work through those personal storms to get to where I’m at today.
So for any writer reading this who’s been blocked, who has sat down to write day in and day out and gotten nothing written, it’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It means your human and you’re not perfect. Don’t let anyone try to take you on a guilt-trip you don’t need to take for this. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about yourself for going through writing times like this. Because in my thirty-six years of writing I can tell you from my personal experience ‘writer’s block’ is real. And most of all, you have to find a way to work through it no matter how long it takes.
Don’t give up on your writing when this happens because after a storm there is always calm and eventually, the echoes of those storms will fade and you’ll be able to breathe, think, and feel again. And yes, the words will come to you. And if anyone doesn’t understand that, walk away from them and do your dead-level best to banish their words from your mind. Those words are like a poison you need to get out of your mind and guard yourself against. When it comes to writing, focus on yourself and tell yourself you’re not selfish for pursuing it when you have the time and the energy to do so.
Writer’s block is real like a storm is real, like your thoughts and feelings are real. But like all storms, eventually, it will come to an end. You’ll learn from each storm and grow stronger every time because of that. And most of all, believe in yourself and you’ll find your words again, and they’ll be better than before.
Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!
Not Your Ordinary Joe
Lisa Criss Griffin
Rance Edwards was not thrilled as he looked out the chopper window. The pilot brought the helicopter to a slow hover before gently setting it down in a designated spot on the desert floor. The landing pad was adjacent to a stone entrance leading inside a strangely eroded pinnacle. Colorful layers of the windswept rock were bathed in an unearthly golden orange glow from the late afternoon sun, intensifying their visual impact dramatically. Rance had to force himself not to take a picture, since it was forbidden by the conditions of this clandestine meeting.
He had felt distinctly uneasy about the whole visit ever since he was first notified of the necessity of his presence here. The remote desert location made him more uncomfortable. There were a few cars in the small parking lot, but on closer inspection, it appeared most of them were rusted junkers. Rance doubted they would even start…sad looking, old rust buckets. What a shame. They would have been valuable cars if they had been properly cared for. He crossed the lot, swatting at an annoying fly that wouldn’t leave him alone. He flicked his tongue across his dry lips as he approached the entry to the rocky outcrop.
A tall blond woman stepped from within the darkness of the entrance, immediately drawing his attention. Rance blinked in surprise, walked up to her and smiled, introducing himself immediately.
“Greetings. I am Rance Edwards from TechMeDNA. I understand you are expecting me.”
“Yes sir, we are. You may call me Tanya. Please follow me and try not to dawdle. It is difficult to find people who get lost in passageways here. The main route through the compound is painted with a wide yellow line. If you do happen to get lost, try to find…the yellow brick road.”
Tanya smiled and giggled at what evidently was a common joke reiterated to all unsuspecting new visitors. The song from a classically famous movie began to play in his head.
“Follow the yellow brick road. Follow the yellow brick road. Follow, follow, follow, follow…follow the yellow brick road! Shut up, shut up, shut up right now. Shut up, shut up, shut up for now! Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it…staaaaaaap!!!
Rance squashed the song in his mind like an overripe banana.
“Can you tell me who I am reporting to, and why, exactly?”
“I don’t have any details to give you. Obviously this meeting is top secret, and they have been deliberately vague. But you already knew that.”
The blonde pressed a brass button on the stone wall. Elevator doors opened, beckoning Rance to take a seat inside the surprisingly plush car. The two of them entered. Tanya selected another button and sank onto a comfortable leather bench. As soon as Rance was seated, he felt the elevator lines chattering as the lift dropped into the depths of the misshapen pinnacle. The artificial lights were dim, adding another layer of discomfort to Rance’s gut anxiety.
Rance fervently wished his dearest friend could have accompanied him. Wes was also a scientist, knew the same material and understood the importance of this meeting. But, it wasn’t safe for both of them to be here. If something happened to him, his friend Wes would still have control over the technology. No matter how much Rance dreaded it, this meeting could be their best option to see some of the most important research ever done come to fruition.
The elevator doors opened. Tanya and Rance turned right and walked down the twists and turns of a dimly lit stone hallway. Tanya finally stopped before a beautifully crafted door. Depictions of mythical beasts were cunningly carved into an inscribed illustration of a forest. She turned the golden handle. The heavy door swung open easily into a much brighter room.
The far wall was a huge aquarium, filled with small schools of brightly colored fish. They quickly darted away in unison, surprised at the intrusion. A large, watermelon-colored grouper cruised by the front of the plexiglass, stopping to peruse the intruders before moving on, unconcerned.
“Please, take a seat. The Guardian will be right with you.”
Tanya motioned towards a conference area to one side of the impressive aquarium. Rance found a comfortable chair and watched a four-foot sand tiger shark swim by lazily on his way to the other side of the habitat. He was beginning to relax when the ornate door once again swung open. A tall man with dark hair and piercing brown eyes entered, followed by a woman carrying a laptop and a soft leather valise in her arms. Rance rose from his chair, nervously wiping the moisture from his hands on the sides of his trousers.
The couple stood in front of Rance, but no handshake was offered. It was a shame really, what the faux pandemic had done to squash humanity’s desire for human touch. The people who were left unaffected after avoiding the disastrous vaccinations were careful now. With good reason. Which was most likely why he was here.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Edwards. You may address me as Maxwell. This lovely lady is Rory. We appreciate your willingness to meet with us on such an important matter. Please, take your seat.”
The tall man sat down while the girl set up the electronics. He got right down to business.
“It has come to our attention through a mutual human acquaintance that your company may have developed an antidote to the plethora of problems the mandatory vaccine perpetrated upon the unsuspecting victims of the human race. As you know, it has become imperative to offer those unfortunate souls whatever relief we can. Thankfully, the vaccine rendered them all sterile, so the horrors won’t be replicated. We heard of your company’s work to reverse the unacceptable effects of the vaccine, and are interested in hearing more. Please enlighten us, and feel free to use the laptop in your presentation.”
Maxwell leaned back in the soft leather chair, awaiting Rance’s response. Rance removed a thumb drive from his inner suit coat pocket and inserted it into the computer. He quickly typed in an extensive password and several answers to security questions known only to him and his fellow scientist and friend, Wes. The laptop hummed as an introductory screen materialized on the adjacent side wall. Rance was impressed. The clarity of the large picture on the smooth stone wall was outstanding. Rance turned to address his audience.
“What you are about to see is truly horrifying. I want to impress upon you both that the creature featured in this program was humanely treated, and was successfully…re-engineered. He enjoys a fairly normal human life now, with only a few minor lasting effects from the vaccine. He is enormously grateful, and is willing to help others in any way he can. Several dozen other victims have also been successfully treated with our method, and are now able to enjoy the remainder of their lives in peace.”
Rance met Maxwell’s intense gaze unwaveringly.
“As you know, the animal DNA used in the vaccine activated and replicated when the 5G systems became operational, resulting in hybrid humans. Half man, half…very unhappy animal.”
Rance cleared his throat nervously as he started the first video. It was difficult to tell what the creature racing around the caged enclosure actually was at first. Not because the picture wasn’t clear, but because some of the body parts looked human, and other parts on the same body were not. The creature stopped suddenly in front of the camera, pounding viciously on the metal bars and screaming in obvious agony. They had all seen creatures like this after the 5G was in place. It was devastating, horrifying and unthinkable!
Rance stopped the video and assessed his audience. Both appeared shaken, but attentive.
“I am sorry to have reminded you of the extreme evil the mandated vaccine perpetrated upon these poor souls. The following slides are one week intervals of this same creature after the initiation of our restorative technology.”
Rance began clicking slowly through the slides, allowing enough time for perusal and any questions. He stopped before the final three slides.
“The final restoration you are about to see happened over a year ago. The subject has only a few lingering quirks from the animal DNA which are not dangerous, nor particularly noticeable unless someone is looking specifically for anomalies. His physical appearance, behavior and mental status are normal. In fact, he has returned to his area of expertise in the scientific field in order to help those who remain in torment from hybridization. It is his mission in life to help restore humanity to the victims of the vaccine. He sincerely hopes you will help him and help our company stop the anguish plaguing those poor devils still out there, who continue to terrorize the remnants of the unadulterated human population.”
Rance stepped to the side as he slowly clicked through the last three slides. He watched as the incredulous realization of who he actually was, dawned on Maxwell and Rory. Both humans jumped to their feet and faced Rance. Rory scooted slightly behind Maxwell as they looked from Rance, to the last slide, and back.
“What the….! Are you kidding me? Seriously, man?” Maxwell exclaimed in shock.
Rance flicked his tongue out quickly to wet his lips, blinked and clenched his fist behind his back to avoid scratching the small itchy, scaly place on his leg. He smiled and nodded his head.
“I am the living, breathing, rational example of what our technology has to offer the hybrid humans. Others like me are having similar results. We pose no threat to pure human beings. It is our most ardent desire to be able to offer this relief to everyone affected. Will you help us right the horrible wrong done to so many unsuspecting men, women and children? Will you fund our efforts to help those poor, suffering souls?”
Maxwell inspected Rance closely with inscrutable eyes, still slightly incredulous. He stroked his dark goatee thoughtfully before replying.
“We would like to tour your facilities, see other results and meet your scientific team before we make a final commitment. But, if this is verifiable, I am pretty sure we will fund your technology. It is the least we could do for the victims of such malevolence! We will set up a time to do so through our mutual human contact.”
The ornate wooden door swung open as if on cue.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Edwards. Tanya will see you out.”
Rance retrieved his thumb drive and quietly accompanied Tanya back to the front entrance. He stepped out into the fading light and stopped for a moment to bask in the lingering warmth of the sunshine. The pesky fly returned and buzzed around his face annoyingly. Rance snapped it up and swallowed it before he could stop himself. Damn lizard DNA, he swore under his breath. He hurried to the waiting helicopter, glad to be going home.
As the aircraft rose above the colorful outcropping, Rance was overcome by a wave of gratitude for the kindness and scientific brilliance of his fully human friend Wes. On the approach to town, his attention was captured by an agonizingly familiar jut of a rocky ledge, partially hidden by the unforgiving sand of the desert. It had been his household’s refuge after the hybridization began. Once they had the funding, it would be the first place Rance would look for what was left of his family.