I Want A Word With You, Abraham Lincoln.

At the moment, I’m not writing this book. I’m doing lots of things, but writing this book isn’t one of them. Last week, this situation didn’t feel too odd. ‘I’m not writing this book,’ I’d say to myself, ‘But I’m preparing to write this book. Preparation is key.’ In fact, I’d feel so confident in (and overcome by) preparation being key, that I’d tell people about it when they asked me how the book was going.

“It’s fine. All fine. Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had ten hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend eight of it sharpening his axe,” I’d say, and they’d look at me like I had a herd of wild animals running up behind me. “And that’s what I’m doing: axe sharpening. Not the writing, the writing’s the easy bit. Preparation. Preparation is key. Why are you looking at me like that?”

That was last week. That was the point of view I’d adopted last week and I appeared to be happy with it.

This week – well, there’s very little going on this week, too. Certainly from my end, no novella writing is going on. Now and again I’ll check, and yep, sure enough, no sort of book writing will be happening. I’ll find myself watching Peep Show, rereading novels that I’ve already reread or absent-mindedly thinking about women I’ve had sex with, but you won’t find me writing a book. Even the axe-sharpening – if that indeed is what I was doing – has ground to a halt. This simultaneously leaves me feeling empty, amused, horrified and, rarely, elated. I’ll find myself eating a breakfast far more healthy than you might imagine (brown toast, natural yoghurt, banana, grapefruit juice) at around 11:30 am, thinking: “Now this really is strange. I’m still definitely not writing that novella. How long can this go on for? I certainly didn’t spend five or six hours in the middle of last night writing it like I imagined I would. Perhaps I’ll write some of it later.”

And when later rolls around I’ll still not be writing the novella. It’s verging on the abnormal. For years this is all I’ve wanted: a room, an idea, enthusiasm, no pressing financial, matrimonial, or emotional issues to deal with, a ready-made and enthusiastic audience. I’ve done the preparation – nailed it last week – so why am I not writing the thing? ‘Is it because I don’t have a desk in the room?’, I wonder.

Yesterday someone gave me a desk. Today, nothing.

“I’ve got writer’s block,” I announced rather grandly over lunch earlier, a lunch where I definitely wasn’t doing any novella writing whatsoever. “It’s okay though, I’ll cope,” I told my lunch companions, as if I was telling them I’d just been given two months to live. “I just thought you should know.”

I haven’t though, have I? Got writer’s block, I mean. At best I’ve got the writing yips. But why with writing? When I was painting houses for a living I didn’t need to steel myself in order to paint a room. When I used to work in bars, I didn’t tell my customers: “Look, I’d love to prepare and serve this drink for you but I don’t feel quite right about it. Not yet, at least. It’ll come, and when it comes you’ll love it, but you might have to wait a few hours while I really think it through.”

Of course I know the answer to this. Serving drinks is easy, writing much harder. But when you strip it down, writing just involves putting the right words in the right order – that’s all. Someone better than me once said that. So that’s what I’ll have to do: chain myself to this desk for the next few weeks and force myself to put the right words in the right order.

Apologies for writing a post like this. I promised myself I’d never commit something like this to paper. But in a way it’s helped so, you know, thanks very much.

Abraham Lincoln probably not writing a book, earlier. 


6 responses to “I Want A Word With You, Abraham Lincoln.

  1. dear pitchy, nice to hear from you, i missed you! but, hey, ‘the axe-sharpening has ground to a halt’ ?? and you slid in the lunch companions – quite a lot of my anguish for you dissipated or something like that that begins with dis at that point. you’ve got company for lunch? i really don’t care too much about the short book (novella is so pretentious) but i do want to keep reading your blogs.
    Don’t stop.

  2. “quite a lot of my anguish for you dissipated or something like that
    that begins with dis at that point”

    Is that some sort of rap lyric, CE? Sounds like one. Anyway, thank you. Let’s see, shall we?

  3. Don’t you dare doubt yourself.It’s not writers block it’s over thinking I reckon.Be kind to yourself.
    Light a candle and sit and stare at it,man.Your Novella is going to be fucking fabulous, you’ll see.

  4. Thanks, I’ll give that candle thing a whirl, Marge. And you’re right, it is over thinking. Damn thoughts.

  5. Sorry, my comment sounded blunt, it was meant to be supportive. It was typed on my new work bb in a supermarket (yes, I was showing off a bit, trying to look like a woman in control and businessy) actually I was feeling a tad overwhelmed in the vegetable section so decided to read PTW, odd I know. If you are interested (which I am quite sure you are not) I went for mangetout. It was the name. The candle thing really does work, always put your hands on the floor afterwards for ‘grounding’, man. I really hope it helps x. It has just occurred to me that the opposite of having ‘Damn thoughts’ and ‘overthinking’ is being a vegetable so all in all this comment makes some sense, or not, really.

  6. PTW in the vegetable section? How splendid. And the candle thing – or at least some thing – appeared to work: 5,179 words yesterday. I didn’t put my hands on the floor though, just stared at it. The candle, not the floor. If you’re at all interested, the 5,179 words I wrote yesterday were all better than these.

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