There are times when I sit down to write, and words flow freely from me, although whether as rushing waters or as searing winds I am not certain. At such times, I am able to produce page after page of balanced, researched prose, or stanza after stanza of occasional verse. (Whether any of it is good is another open question.) I glory in such times; I feel productive in them, and I have been trained by the culture of my upbringing and the culture of academia to regard feeling productive as being the primary indicator of my worth as a human being. It is only in the making that I feel as if I matter, and so I make effort to be making much and often. (Another reason for my maintaining this webspace despite its relatively low readership rate--perhaps thirty daily--presents itself.)
There are times, however, when I sit down to write, and the words will not come. It happens to many if not to all who will place themselves in front of the blank page or screen with the intent to mark upon it in pen or in pixels, that they will find themselves sometimes desirous of writing yet unable to do so. I know that, of course, just as I know that to go onto the mats at a dojo means that I may well find my elbow hyperextended or my toes broken, my nose bloodied or my body bruised, or worse yet. But that knowledge does not mean I enjoy being injured, and the similar knowledge of writing does not mean I enjoy being stymied as I sit with pen in hand or keyboard before me. It should not have to.
Such a time presented itself yesterday. I was able to make my regular comments in this space, but afterwards, when I made to work on a small piece of The Work that has been much on my mind, I was unable to do so with any skill. Part of the shift has to do with my sudden need to read again--I was making use of texts I have on my shelves but which I had not looked at for a while, so I had to refamiliarize myself with them. It takes some time to do so, even for me. More, though, came from simple blockage; I could not get my thoughts together well enough to push them out onto the page. Even after I tried the eureka technique Asimov discusses, going off and doing something else that demanded attention but not too much in the way of deeper thought, I was not able to resume work on The Work as I had meant to do. Whether it came from simple fatigue or from the more complex phenomenon many teachers know of pouring out the self into the tasks of attending to others, it frustrated me--and still frustrates me.
Each day, I rise and sit to write here and elsewhere, and I hope that I will have more of the former kind of day than the latter. The latter is far more frequent than the former, more's the pity.