I sit there with a pen and a piece of paper-no, a notebook. And yes, I’m old-school. I love writing and love my work to have what they call manuscripts; shattered pieces of paper that I will look at in future and remember sitting under a young shade-less acacia tree trying to pull off some Isaac Newton shit except in this case there are no apples or mangoes falling and no ideas to put down on that piece of paper. Only dried thorns under the shade. I loathe the fact that even under similar circumstance as Sir Isaac Newton, I cannot come up with something half as brilliant as he did.
My mind is wandering, harboring all kinds of crazy thoughts but none worth taking the precious space on my notebook. It’s new and I want to keep it original, simple and sensible. I would love to say keep it real but I remember that’s what Eko Dydda named his son. I refrain but keep thinking: if I was keeping it real I would be writing my raw thoughts on that notebook. It would be an original. Ironical.
I get lost. I take out my tablet and out of habit open the gallery. That was not what I wanted to do. I close it and instead open a blank word document and start typing. I’m still thinking: if this is how I prepare my work, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to call myself a typist instead of a writer? Perhaps I should look for mango tree and sit under it but that would be chasing the wind in this savannah vegetation. But what kind of writer am I if I can’t write anything of substance. I try but every sentence I try putting down on paper feels laden. The rich prose and elegance of the plots of the classics haunt me. Paragraphs take hours to put down only to be later wiped clean off the screen for their utter mediocrity.
Yes, mediocrity- the ghost that relentlessly haunts us writers and any professional who gives a shit about their body of work. Quite often you trudge onto a blank word document and you find him (mediocrity) seated there rocking from a wooden chair, grinning widely with a big cigar burning from his lips. Sometimes we fall into his open arms and acquiesce like I did two months ago and continued doing up until a few minutes ago but I’ll come clean and explain my hiatus.
It has been quite a while since I was last on this platform and to keep the record straight, I have not cracked and neither am I on some drugs that I cannot get enough of. I have also not gotten rich by scamming honorable members of parliament like Wazir Chacha is doing (that guy has got balls). I am also not strolling the streets of Florence admiring architectural beauties in the name of Palazzo Vecchio or The Badia or admiring the works of great Italian artists in Uffizi gallery. No, am home in some remote village on the plains east of Mau ranges, south of Eburru forest, west of Lake Naivasha instead admiring the vegetation, the extensive plain, shielding myself from the scotching sun (despite it being a rainy season) under an acacia tree reading the history of the city of Florence and nursing an acute case of writer’s block.
That’s right, writers block- the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing according to Wikipedia. Despite one of my lecturers always cautioning me against its use and terming it as ‘not academic’, I agree with it (Wikipedia) in this instance. I seemed to have lost the ability to produce original ideas or be creative at all. I have run out of juice. In the midst of my ailing, I delved into finding out what might really have caused it or the remedies thereof and as fate would have it, I found that I was neither alone nor the first to have it. I also don’t expect to be the last. Not knowing any renown writer intimately, or ever having experienced it before it was difficult to know how to go about it.
But as a bulging writer, I have grown accustomed to reading other peoples works and on this particular day I found one who expressed the very same sentiments. Perhaps even better than I could do myself if I was to explain exactly how I was feeling. Up until that moment it had not occurred to me how easy it was to get disillusioned by writing as one grows up.
To quote Joe ‘Black’ Munuve:
“Now I know that it is easy to belittle writer’s block, dismiss it as a sentimental triviality. It is the vogue to throw around idealistic notions like ‘it is all in the mind’ and ‘what the mind can conceive it can achieve’. I know they are in good stride, harmless phrases to spur action but one has to become pragmatic and dwell on the matter-of-fact rather than abstract assumptions at times. Well, yes, it might all be in the mind but it is not the only thing in there now, is it? Writer’s block is like erectile dysfunction. By their very nature, both afflictions strike at the epicenter of manhood, the culmination and indeed justification of maleness-the ego- and deflate it quicker than punctured silicone and the more you think of them the more unlikely they are to launch. That the gravity of such a sensitive situation to be reduced to lame generalizations is further insult to injury. It is not all in the mind. Some of it may be in the elbows, ashy and dry as they are. Wherever else it might be, it nuts down to the fact that muse has deserted me, the bitch. Spiders hold court in the yellowing pages of my notebook. My pen lays dusty on the shelf; I cannot get it up (pun intended).”
Hopefully, after this I will get it up.
©“Cooper” Jose Njoroge