Mar 242014

writers-blockWhile in the throes of my most recent bout of writer’s block, I made the following observations:

  1. Dee Wallace is disproportionately represented in the number of movies we keep on hand at our vacation cabin.
  2. I have a difficult time wrapping up conversations.
  3. Every time I go shopping in a department store I become irrationally paranoid that people think I’m there to shoplift.

On the surface these things may seem unrelated to the condition of writer’s block, but upon further scrutiny, it would appear as if, somewhere along the way, my psyche might have gotten short-changed on balls.

One only has to look as far as 1981’s The Howling in which Dee Wallace’s character, Karen White, confronts her husband, Bill, about a series of marks on his back that look suspiciously like the fingernail scratches of a woman. When Karen refuses to accept Bill’s much more plausible explanation that the scratches came from a werewolf attack, he abruptly ends the exchange by backhand-slapping her across the face[1].dee wallace 2

There’s a certain advantage that the semi-autistic have when dealing with people. If they no longer wish to talk to the person, they’ll simply tell them. Otherwise, it’s a facet of conversation most everyone else has to dance around with and broach with great care and timing. I seem to struggle with it more than what’s probably considered normal and I’m not sure of the reason why. If you’ve ever heard me say any of the following to you: “Wow, look at the time…”, or “Well, I should be calling back x, y, or z…,” or even something as over-powering as “HOLY SHIT! LEMME CALL YOU BACK!!”, there’s a very good chance that I was just trying to wrap up our conversation, no offense. But if, for some reason, you didn’t cue in on any of these euphemisms for “I just don’t feel like talking anymore”, you might have managed to keep me on the hook for another good ten minutes or longer. Why? Because I don’t like to come across as rude.

And then there’s the department store thing where I might be checking out a shirt but then suddenly spot the surveillance camera dome in the ceiling looming overhead. I’m pretty certain I’ve just locked eyes via closed circuit camera with the store’s loss prevention associate who’s now pegged me as suspicious. Every move I make thereafter seems exaggerated in a way so as not to betray any ambiguous motion that might cause the loss prevention associate to think I might have just concealed some merchandise in my jacket.

Are these quirky anecdotes a glimpse into the pathology of my writer’s block episodes? Does my default setting cause me to gravitate toward elements of doubt and low self-esteem? Is that what I think of myself, subconsciously? As writers, we all have our moments of doubt over whether our writing is “good enough”; whether we’re just fooling ourselves into thinking we’ve got something important to say. Life is a breath of existence sandwiched between eons of non-existence. If writing and creating is how you define your quality of life (as I do), then not writing and not creating makes it feel as if you’re wasting precious time.

Fortunately, I’ve stumbled upon some coping strategies for dealing with writer’s block whenever it surfaces. The most effective of all, I’ve found, is to completely disengage myself from the act of writing completely, for a time. Going for a long walk (or exercise, in general) or catching a flick also seems to help. They don’t always produce the most desired outcome: increased production, but, in the very least, it’s a quality – if only ephemeral –  way of scooping yourself up from the gutter.

[1] Other Dee Wallace films in my collection include E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Cujo, and Invisible Mom; all films in which she is portrayed as isolated, disillusioned, and, literally…transparent.

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John Kingston resides in Seattle, Washington. His novel, The Portraits of Gods, was released in January 2015 by Anaphora Literary Press.

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  2 Responses to “Writer’s Block and Dee Wallace: An Indirect Personal Link?”

  1. insightfull

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