The Wall


How is it that a blank page can stare back at me so menacingly that I’m picking every pimple on my face and blister on my toes before I even know I’m intimidated by it?

In case that wasn’t enough information. So often before I start writing, I feel less of a writer’s block and more of a wall of my own undoing. It’s not that I don’t know how to write or where to start, or (fortunately) have a lack of things to write about. It’s more like I think of a million immaculate beginnings, middles, and endings, all whirling above my head in potential perfection. They immediately take off like flying bricks, falling into place* in the shape of a giant wall before me; a crack-less edifice I’ve created. But it’s both beautiful and terrible, because the united front of them prevent me from ever picking just one idea and getting started. I’m paralyzed because I know that as soon as I do commit to that one beginning or middle or end, the innumerable possibilities must fall away, and the one I picked suddenly seems much less perfect and much more constricting. The brick starts to crumble and won’t interlock with any of the other bricks (now also crumbly), and the whole lot of them definitely refuse to make anything remotely cohesive, let alone pretty or (heaven forbid) functional.


To sum up: I’m having trouble writing about the Iowa State Fair.


*I’m realizing now I’m borrowing this image from the Pink Floyd album cover, which I now recall was brought into my awareness rather arbitrarily in seventh grade. My language arts teacher, Mr. Romano, was clearly either trying to kill time when a lesson plan ran short or because the art teacher called in sick, because he had us all draw a brick wall crumbling in the middle. For like, two hours. Maybe we were meant to learn something about geometry, the z-axis in the Cartesian plane, something. But I kind of doubt it. In any case, his appeal to coolness–“You know, ‘The Wall’? You guys know Pink Floyd?”–was not effective. I’m a bit startled to realize he probably wasn’t much older than I am now, and as judgmental as I am of his naivete, I’m also recalling my similarly naive attempt in high school to teach an e. e. cummings poem to a bunch of “inner city” middle schoolers on their first day of a voluntary poetry-writing workshop. Uh, come on, Audrey.


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