Monday, January 17, 2011

Could Deep Shaft Cure Writer's Block?

Today has been almost as pretty as yesterday. Both days have been sunny and warmer than we have seen in days. A slow drive by the river showed broken ice where a fishing boat had pushed up the stream; the city lake still had ice that a large flock of geese were walking on. The forecast is for icy rain and maybe a few inches of snow in a few days.

Yesterday I actually heard song birds. I thought I was crazy until a friend in the next town wrote a note that said she heard the birds singing in the sunshine. The birds were happy to have a break in the winter too, although more ice and snow are coming this week again. Like the birds, I was energized. Put away more greenery, bows, and such from the holidays, but I still could not part with the red tablecloth and the poinsettia tea pot. I KNOW more winter waits, but I did trade the silk greens for some bright red tulips in the front window, my sign to the world that I am hopeful while waiting for spring. Swept off the front porch, took down the winter wreath, vacuumed the floors, shook the rugs, made Teriyaki chicken, did up the laundry, paid the bills, and was ready to write.

Boom, I got up this morning and faced that block again. Flipped through the notes, pondered, let my mind roam and still nothing jumping from mind to page. Finally I eked out a final draft of a Christmas poem for submission to a publication’s call for next year’s poems. Then I shifted gears to reading. I finished a re-read of Stephen Ambrose’s Personal Reflections of an Historian. I found this read just as interesting as the first time read and wondered what Ambrose would have to say of America now if he were still alive. While I don’t always agree with Ambrose, I always love his presentations and observations.

Ambrose was a jogger but he had to give up physical activities when he wrote about Nixon because the subject was so demanding. He wrote over 2100 pages on Nixon and found himself exhausted after researching and writing. When working on Nixon he had to go to bed at 8 p.m., get up at 6 a.m. and take a nap during the day. It was interesting to learn that this experienced writer found the task of writing so exhausting.

I am also working my way through a small publication on Kansas bootleggers. This is full of amazing information and interests me because my great-grandfather had a still in Crawford County, one of two infamous counties known for an extreme amount of brewing and bootlegging that went on after WWI. Once the war was over, the lead and zinc mining business in the area took a dive, and people needed a way to support their families. Many European immigrants had come to the area to work the mines and then were jobless after the war. With both the taste for wine and spirits and experience of brewing in their own stills, the people went to work making moonshine in dry Kansas. Deep Shaft became a big but illegal business. I am sure there is a story to tell here somewhere!


Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Hi Bookie! Your story idea is amazing...there are so many tales to tell! Good luck.

Sorry the block has you. There is a website I visit when I feel blocked or just want a writing exercise:

I pick a random prompt and write something, anything, even if it looks like a laundry list. Then before I know it the story idea hits and I'm off. There are many to choose from. Maybe it will help. :)

BECKY said...

Hi Bookie! Don't worry...that old block will leave soon, I can just feel it.

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Claudia,
Write about that miserable mess heading our way tomorrow, then you'll get your muse back.

Bill's dad was a bootlegger too during prohibition. Maybe we can collaborate on a tome :)

Who's looking for Christmas poetry this late?
Have good day. Wish you lived closer.

Rebecca said...

You're not "blocked" in the literal sense! Just look at what (how much and how well) you've just WRITTEN! :)

One persistent chirper sang so loudly outside my dining room window, that I left my chair to get up and search him out! What do the birds know?