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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Tuesday January 08, 2002
02:01 PM

On writer's block

[ #1984 ]
Dear Log,

On Book TV this weekend, a bunch of senior citizen authors of fiction were nattering about writer's block:

Toni Morrison: "Sometimes you get into a state where you can't move it, and they [the characters' voices] 're not there and they're not working, and you can't figure it out. And in those cases, I hunt for things, but over over time I've learned that they don't come when I'm sorta scratching and pawing.
I have this feeling that there's no such thing as 'writer's block'. There's only the writer who should not be writing at that point, and you're really blocked because it's not there yet. So if it doesn't come, I wait until it arrives, so to speak."

Frank McCourt: "Steve Martin said that writer's block is just an excuse people use to go out and get drunk.
I don't believe in writer's block either. You never hear about it on the other side of the Atlantic [i.e., back in Europe]. You never hear about English or French writers talk about writer's block. That's here. [...]
I have elevated scribbling to an art. Young people are always asking me, 'how do you write, how do you go about it?'. I say, 'well, scribble! Sit down and scribble! Put down whatever comes to your head'. I have lists of neighbors back in Limerick, and in New York, lists of students I've had in New York City high schools, schools I've been in, meals that I've had (that was a very short list in Ireland: tea and bread!).
One of the big words going around nowadays is 'resonate'. I could put down the name of a street in Limerick, or I put down the name of a street in Grenchwich Village, and there's a story attached to it, something happened there, so that there's no reason or writer's block; you can recall the past or characters, you can keep working all the time, you don't have to go off and get drunk."

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  • In my previous life as a writer, I was the same way; if I couldn't write, I just stopped writing. When I was ready to write again, I would write.

    Of course, as a journalist, that didn't work very well on deadline. But the nice thing about journalism is that when all else fails, you just follow the formula, stick the facts in the right places, and you're done. It's like programming something when you have not done it before but it is a little script and you know exactly how it should be done, and you don
  • Very interesting addition to all the other entries about writing that have appeared these past two-three days. I, too, agree that there's no point in forcing oneself to write. I was unable to write anything in a long 4 years, and all of a sudden it came back three months ago, and despite a lot to do on the work side I've now got circa 200 pages of (non-semiotic) scribbling :-)

    However that point about writer's block not existing (or not being talked about) in Europe is wrong. It is very much talked


    -- Robin Berjon []