Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Muse Likes Porridge

Do you ever get so happy that you feel like you're going to burst? I sometimes do. I felt that way yesterday.

I started my day at the gym, then I drove over to my east-side office (the J&M Cafe) for breakfast. I hadn't been there for weeks, but yesterday I really needed to get out of the house, because the window in my office is leaking and the sound of the drips drives me absolutely insane. So I claimed my favorite barstool at the counter, spread out my pen and pad in front of me, and ordered my usual 10-grain porridge.

Speaking of porridge, the dining room was not too full of people, and it was not too quiet, but it was just right. Even the coffee was spot on. Everything was going perfectly—until I looked down at my blank piece of paper.

Imagine God hitting the pause button on your life. That's what happened to me. Suddenly I felt like my brain had just been zapped off to some kind of mental purgatory. I apologize for scrambling too many metaphors together here, but I swear it felt like someone had just done a hard reset of my central processing unit. My brain went perfectly still inside my skull and did nothing but stare back at me, blankly. It didn't even quiver.

I have faced this same situation almost every day now, going on five weeks. Each day I get nowhere with my story no matter how long I stare at it. Despite several months of careful planning, and despite this being the most joy-filled and inspiring story that I have ever invented, somehow I must have taken a wrong turn down some dead-end street in my brain. Pardon my Franglish, but that state of mind really sucks.

Good writers are not supposed to have nightmares about blank pieces of paper. Good writers are supposed to have a knack for tracking progress, oiling gears, overcoming obstacles, and so on. But I am not yet a very experienced writer, and besides, even they get stalled.

So by now I have finished my 10-grain porridge. I've had plenty of coffee. I've been to the boy's room twice. I'm starting to overstay my welcome at the resaurant, when suddenly “BAM!” Oh, my God! My brain is now writing faster than my poor fingers can move. Yes, I'm listening. I've got it. Right. Yes. That's perfect. Where's this coming from? No—never mind that!—just keep going. Don't think about thinking. Just think. Awesome. Spectacular. Fantastic.

Then just as suddenly, I knew that I had it, the answer to my puzzle. Oh, praise, praise, praise! Praise time! Praise patience! Praise everything. I was so happy that I just wanted to kiss someone. I was also starting to get blubbery, which is always a comfortable situation for everyone in a diner. (My apologies to the lady having scrambled eggs. You must have been trying to decide whether to console me or ignore me. Just be glad that I didn't kiss you, my dear.)

I hope this obstacle proves to be my last. Right now the way ahead looks clear, so all I can do is move forward as if it were. Anyway, I'm happy again, and that's good.