I have nothing to contribute: Like cockblock, but for writers
I have nothing to contribute. I’m like a deadbeat dad of writers. Article? Fuck that! You’ll have to take me to court. It’s not that I don’t want to write something. It’s just that I can’t. I’ll start out, and within a half a sentence the words become nonsense, strung together in an even more nonsensical way, eventually breaking down into a string of frustrated expletives. “It was a dark and klattu snozberry, makes weeble hoopla fuckity crapdamn shit!”
Once I start down this road, it’s usually hard to get off, so I end up taking a break. For a few dozen hours. Usually, this time is spent playing role-playing games. After a bit, I figure that if writers are supposed to write what they know, then I should be a whiz writing about RPGs. I could do some fan fiction about my RPG characters!
It’s usually not too many pages later that I realize writing about RPGs is almost as mind-numbingly boring as playing them:
“Lord Tyche the Black sits atop his death mare riding through the Sundered Forest. There is a rustling sound from a copse of trees to his left, and suddenly a dire rat jumps onto the trail. Lord Tyche draws his +2 Greater Bastard Sword with Protection from Frost. He takes one mighty swing and cleaves the dire rat in two. He picks up the dire rat’s severed tail and puts it into his pouch. A merchant will buy it in the next town for two silver pieces.”
“Lord Tyche sheathes his sword and starts forward again. Within five yards, another dire rat jumps from the woods. Tyche unsheathes his sword again and swings it again. The dire rat dies, Tyche collects the tail, sheathes his sword, and sets off again. He makes it seven yards before (wait for it) another dire rat strikes. ‘This time I’m not sheathing my fucking sword,’ Tyche thinks to himself.”
Still, even though it’s utter garbage, I was writing something, and I felt that was a step in the right direction.
To be a writer, I figured I needed to get into the mind of a writer. So I started doing the only two things that I knew for sure that writers adored: chain-smoking and heavy drinking. This, at least, gave me something to do while I was doing nothing. I briefly flirted with the idea of taking up the two other writer habits (depression and suicidal tendencies), but figured that I ought to give drinking and smoking a fair shake first. Besides, there was always the chance that I might reach those states on my own if my writing didn’t pick up.
I eventually began having arguments with the blank pages I was producing. I can only assume that the drink was partly responsible for this. I never used to have discussions with my work (or lack thereof) let alone full-blown arguments. During a drunken, fitful dream, I imagined myself as Eminem at the beginning of 8 Mile, except instead of a rap-off, it was a write-off. The underground bar setting was the same, but the predominately black audience was replaced by a bunch of stuffy old men with wild, busy hair in the areas where they weren’t going bald. They wore large, round glasses, tweed jackets, and smoked hand-carved wooden pipes.
I spent the whole next day drinking harder than usual and listening to Eminem’s Lose Yourself. I woke up the next afternoon with a particularly nasty headache and slogged my way to the computer to see what my day’s effort had produced, writing-wise. The screen did indeed include a bit of writing, but it turned out to be a grocery list I had put together, containing only one item: whiskey.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t have any good ideas during this time either. In one instance I had created a basic outline explaining why Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was a modern masterpiece. This is hardly an original concept, but I doubt that anyone had gone to quite the depths that I was willing to explore. There would’ve been charts and graphs, the likes of which had never been seen in a movie review before. Not just one or two. No. Hell no. There would be pie, column, line, bar, and scatter. Standard deviation? You bet your fucking ass there would be standard deviation. My God. I’m getting turned on just thinking about it.
Now, all the graphs in the world can’t make a bad review good, or a boring review interesting, so I needed a hook. Something to suck the readers in and I found it. From studying local, national and federal law enforcement reports I found a direct correlation between Pulp Fiction winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes and a sharp decline in reports of alien abduction. Now, I’m not saying that Pulp Fiction’s win was enough proof to aliens that there was intelligent life on the planet and they could stop researching us through anal probing, but the numbers simply don’t lie. I had all the research, notes and outline done. All I had to do was write the thing when I was blocked.
That’s not all. In the hype of all the recent Oscar buzz, I decided to re-explore what I thought was one of the greatest snubs in recent memory. What I discovered was shocking. During the battle of the Granicus in 334 BC, Alexander the Great was stunned and nearly killed by Spithridates. Before Spithridates could administer the coup de grâce, Spithridates was himself felled by Black Cleitus, which allowed Alexander to recover and win the battle.
Had Black Cleitus not killed Spithridates and Spithridates ended up killing Alexander, the movie Children of Men would’ve won the Oscar for Best Cinematography. Not only that, it would’ve been nominated and won for Best Picture and Best Director. This isn’t just fanboy rambling, or even speculative historical reimagining; this is fact backed up by archaeological findings. However, once I got to the computer to share my findings with the world, I could no longer string two words together. It’s probably just as well because my archaeological “facts” were true only in a very vivid dream I had after a particularly heavy night of drinking combined with a marathon playing session of Titan Quest.
The saddest part is that my computer, which was once used solely for writing, was now being used primarily for games. My keyboard and mouse were sticky with spilt alcohol, and probably a little drool. I used to be a maestro at the keyboard. I would share my creations with my audience of online peers, the symphonic rattling of the keyboard garnering their uproarious applause. Now, with the keyboard silent, my only audience is a lone cricket, my applause a tinny chirp. At first this didn’t bother me. The chirp provided a relaxing bit of ambiance to the silence created by my lack of writing. Eventually it became too much.
FUCK YOU, CRICKET!
Stop fucking chirping! I don’t care if I can figure out the temperature in Fahrenheit by taking the number of chirps in a fourteen second period and adding forty to it, I don’t want to hear it anymore! What have you created, huh, Mr. Cricket? Besides the stridulation of your chirping coming from rubbing the file side of your wings against the scraper side. I don’t see you creating anything, let alone an article.
Eventually I apologized to the cricket, and we shared a few drinks.
Edited by Daniel Swensen, Illustrations by Tracy McCusker