I am currently suffering from writer’s block—or, to use a term more descriptive of how it actually feels on the rare instances when it seizes me, Writing Aversion Disorder (WAD), an ailment of much more serious proportions than mere blockage. It’s not just that I can’t think of anything to say or don’t like what I do say or even that the words are there but just won’t emerge from my brain or fingers onto the virtual page. Rather, I’m incapable of even approaching my computer. The thought of writing nauseates me.
As such, I’m late posting this month, which has surely not endeared me to the tireless and underappreciated editors of this blog. We’re supposed to set our posts two weeks early to give them time to look our writing over before letting it loose into the blogosphere. I feel bad about my sloth. I can’t help it, though. I’m in a bad way.
It should be good writing time for me. As a professor, I have summers off, and, with both daughters occupied with faraway internships, I’ve had big writerly plans this summer. I’m right in the middle—the most exciting part, where all the narrative strands start coming together—of a novel-in-progress, and my goal, before WAS set in, was to get ’er drafted by summer’s end.
Now my goal is to do anything but write. Read. Relearn “Minuet in G Minor” and “Für Elise” from my year of piano lessons as a child. String beads from stashes I found in my daughters’ rooms to make gaudy bracelets for myself and them. Play Spider Solitaire on my new phone. (My brother recently clued me in on how to Control-Z back to a game’s beginning to avoid wrecking my win-percentage.) Clean my deceased mother-in-law’s house down the road. (I’m not joking: I spent all day yesterday there, sorting, tossing, soaping, scrubbing.) Weed my garden out in the hot sun.
I was thinking about this problem as I crouched, hands in the dirt, today, and it occurred to me that, while I usually love working in the garden, even weeding, I’m also overcome on occasion by Gardening Aversion Disorder (GAD)—surely related to WAD. So, with no other blog post in view, I decided to examine what triggered my GAD episodes for anything that might illuminate and, ideally, solve my current dilemma.
Here’s what I came up with: I suffer from GAD when tasks or trips have taken me away from the garden for bit and, upon my return, everything has gotten out of control. Vegetables need harvesting, many having overgrown their tastiness. Itchy weeds carpet the gravel paths between the beds. Sand fleas have made lace of my eggplant leaves; my bean vines are encrusted in ants; my tomato plants are speckled with big black beetles. I know I have to regain control but don’t know where to start.
The answer to my own question—where to start—is to not ask it in the first place. Don’t look, I tell myself. Just leap! Whatever task I choose, my gardening soul has learned to believe, will be more productive, more creative, than wallowing in indecision.
Maybe I don’t want to write, I speculated, because I’ve lost control and uncertain where to start in reclaiming it. And, indeed, as soon as I thought these words, I knew them to be true. That little lightbulb of insight was all I needed.
Perhaps, I thought—or hoped, or both—I need to quit trying to figure what part to work on next and just do whatever comes to hand.
And somehow, having just that much—that little—of a plan sent me back to my desk to dash off this post and then leap back into story.