Scratching for some roadkill
Occasionally I'm encouraged to believe that somebody out there is reading this column when I get the question (not necessarily a compliment), "Where do you get your ideas?" It's about time I give an honest answer.
Picture the crow. This scavenger hangs around the highways looking for the roadkill body of some poor rabbit, raccoon, skunk, deer, dog, cat, squirrel or other critter that didn't look both ways before crossing the highway and never got to the other side. So the crow scratches and claws for a few bites among the hide, guts, muscle, bones and rotten remains. It's not a pretty sight and neither is the sight of a once-a-week writer of articles scratching for an idea among the leftover remains of ideas that already have been picked over by the bright and talented guys who write daily. The result? You read it every week.
Sometimes there's nothing left on the road. Nothing. What the reader doesn't see is the writer's block (WB for the rest of this article to save time, space and the unnecessary cutting down of trees). What is WB? I will explain it to you as well as I can:
n In it's simplest terms, WB is where a writer sits down with a pen and a blank sheet of paper and an hour later the writer is still sitting there and the sheet of paper is still blank. Two hours later -- still blank (both of them).
WB is where doubt and indecision revolve around the brain like two moons circling the earth and when they align there is a total eclipse of the mind leaving it in absolute darkness.
WB is when a writer digs deeply into the pockets of his or her imagination and comes up with nothing but pocket lint.
WB is a hot frying pan without bacon and eggs.
Worse yet, WB is a cold frying pan.
WB is a head where hair refuses to grow. (But never ask a baldheaded person whether he or she has WB.)
With WB the cupboard is always bare.
WB is strike one, strike two, strike three -- you're out.
WB is a long tunnel with no light at the end.
WB is a phone that never rings and if you call out nobody answers.
WB is a gun that shoots blanks.
WB is fishing all day long and never getting a bite.
WB is standing up to make a speech and nothing comes out.
WB is a trombone with a bell stuffed full of putty.
WB is a long train ride in the dark to nowhere.
WB is false starts that result in many balls of crumbled paper on the floor.
WB is an elevator that never gets to the top floor.
WB is like a kiss from your great aunt Hattie. (I should know, I had a great aunt Hattie, rest her soul. At a hearing for me to be appointed her guardian, the judge asked her "Do you know this fellow Lynn Hummel?" Her answer: "Yes I know him alright -- he thinks he's the czar."
There it is, as clearly as I can state it. I don't expect sympathy, just understanding. Even our beloved Minnesota Twin, Most Valuable Player Joe Mauer strikes out once in awhile. (Wait, I'll say it before you get a chance: "Yeah Lynn, but as a writer you're no Joe Mauer.")