The dawn has yet to break on this mid-winter Saturday as I sip from a comforting cup of French roast tempered with an ounce of half-and-half and a dash of Truvia. I am awake but not roused. I am groggy but it is neither sleep nor fatigue that deadens my mind; it is a lack of inspiration.
I awoke to a dull blue glow of 2:04 AM from the bedside clock. My mussed pillows and disheveled sheets signs of a night spent in creative unrest. I yielded to no hesitation; I rose with an immediacy that meant only one thing: I must write.
Behind the sealed and guarded doors of my mental chamber of ideas, a thousand thoughts swirled in a chaotic tempest.1 I waited for something to alight, to take root, to grow. There was an image of a man drinking a half pint of vinegar so that he could boast that the glass was still half full; an exchange of laughter by a rotund store clerk and an intoxicated blue-eyed biker; I saw an inexplicable sea of disgruntled frowns shopping for celebratory feasts; and I envisioned dozens of vignettes of irony, uncertainty and experimentation in my new life of bachelorism. Each ghostly apparition refused to pause long enough to be snatched by my desperate hands and molded into something worth writing about. Still, the harsh glare of my laptop taunts me to write on.
To further bedevil my misery, a gale wind is blowing an icy rain against the windows like some ersatz Stephen King scene. The forest of hemlock, walnut and fir sway and twist like languid dancers stiffened in over-rehearsed choreography, mistimed to the rumble of rare winter thunder. Over the hurried rush of the storm I hear my dog snoring peacefully from the warmth and comfort of my now long abandoned bed. Upstairs there is a loud knock where one of my playful shadow haunts teases me to come look for what I know I will never find. A neighbor’s truck engine turns over high above me on the mountain, and I listen as his brakes and transmission fight the gravity on the trek down the grade and through the switchbacks of our precariously steep and unlit one-lane egress. Through the bespeckled window panes, the house lights of the secluded valley below shimmer, the distant four-lane hosts only a handful of weekend commuters, and the barn on the far hill is alternately pulsed and darkened by the headlamps of a tractor loading baled hay in the pouring rain.
I live in a kaleidoscope of writing prompts and still the cursor blinks idly while my mind wanders aimlessly. Is it me? How many students and peers have I led through this torture of impotent creativity? Why is this damp and cold January so different than the many excuses that I would not accept over the years? That salacious urge screams inside of me, “Write!” Yet the cursor blinks on; my cravings destined to remain unsated.
It is the bane of every writer: that clogged artery of ideas that stifles the flow of words and ideas, depriving the art of it vital oxygenated nutrients. I will survive this infarction as all creative people must do from time to time, but at what cost? What did I lose this morning? I will mourn the potential of this stillborn story that refused its rightful birth and post instead this account of its tragic nonexistence.
These words are ill-suited to my passion and not worthy of the unrealized potential they recount. I will write again soon, but for now at least I have silenced that incessant cursor and dulled the glare of my blank screen.
1. I purposefully used the word "tempest" to grant a smile to a dear and beloved friend.