Block and blog

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Just this morning, the phrase “writer’s blog” entered my mind, which, naturally, in my mind anyway, evoked the more common phrase “writer’s block.” The latter is a concern to just about every writer I know, denoting those times when nothing comes to the head or nothing gets down on paper anyway. Countless articles and books have been devoted to this phenomenon, but it’s not my concern here.

Snoopy is probably just thinking too hard.
Up on the rooftop, he’s also in the doghouse.

Probably because, at this age or stage of my life, said block is not a problem for me. Rather just the opposite, as those who know me, the way my wife knows me, for example, must surmise. Writer’s blog — sometimes blah or meh as it is — is, rather, a condition of full-bore verbal excess, or logorrhea, where the words rush out pell-mell, impelled by word associations or sound klangs, as we have here (block blog → bug: whatever spills out of the cornucopia of sound, you use it). I drive my wife crazy, true, by singing constantly, snatches of this, that, or the other song from years ago, usually pop songs or classical Lieder, it doesn’t matter, and this material, like the material in the mind of a psychoanalyst’s patient, or analysand, must be worked through.

What I’m getting at is that the apparently formless or meaningless sounds of our language, its klangs or music, can form a large if usually unexamined part of what impels the writer to write. These are unconscious or half-conscious motive forces, it can be, but where can they lead us?

Before he or she can make much sense of these sounds, I suggest, he’d better be prepared to make nonsense — no sense for the time being — or risk making no sense ever. Isn’t the best way to loosen up for your on-stage performance, the finished product, just to get way down and loosey-goosey to begin with? If we’re talking student essays, more than a few of which I’ve shepherded through to completion, we may be talking what writing teachers like to call “pre-writing” or “brainstorming.” Before the brain can be productive, it has to be awake, even if it’s awake in a muggy way. So the writer starts humming, or singing, or committing nonsense to paper. He babbles like a child, the child he is. And refuses to censor himself before he’s gotten going.

At a recent session of a writer’s group with which I’m associated, one of the other writers brought in a tremendously detailed outline of the novel she plans to write. All this work followed the prescripts of one or another of the literary gurus out there in the self-help writer’s market. (Gurus who may or may not ever have produced a work of creative genius.) Page after page of outline and character background and analysis were poured forth. It was exhausting just listening, or looking, at this pre-production. “Now all you have to do,” I remarked, “is write the book.”

Poets, of course, aren’t held to the same high, and foolish, regard for what passes all too easily for truth as fiction writers and factual writers. There could be far worse ways to get going than babbling. Or blogging.

Blog → block → blah. And, as Webster’s gives by way of “blah” synonyms: “bunkum, humbug, hooey, eyewash, twaddle, bosh.” Be willing to risk ’em, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, all the rich and various ways to make no sense before you make perhaps too much. As my fourth grade nun, old Sister Peter, would say, back in the day, “Bunk! Rubbish! Fiddlesticks! Nonsense!”

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