Drawing a blank not much fun

Sunday, February 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:36 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

It’s never happened to me before. And I never want it to happen again. Every week when I sit down to write this column, I have an idea or two as to what topic I will write about. But last week when I sat down at 5 a.m. (my usual time to begin writing), my mind went blank. I wasn’t worried, though. The coffee wasn’t quite ready, and I still had to go through my morning ritual of checking my e-mail.

After deleting about 75 spams and the 10 or so “jokes” sent by friends who have too much time on their hands, I played a couple of games of my new obsession, Solitaire 13. By then the coffee was ready, so I went to the kitchen and poured myself a cup. The morning paper had arrived, so I brought it from the front porch and sat in the kitchen and read the headlines.

I walked back to my computer, noting that I had wasted an hour. Let’s see, I can write about the weather. No, that’s too boring. I can’t write another column about my ailments. People will begin to think I’m a hypochondriac. The grandkids haven’t been over for two weeks because of the ice and snow, so there’s nothing to report on that front. I could say something about my continuing struggles with my current weight-loss regime. No, that’s too depressing.

I better play a few more games until something comes to me, I thought. Thirty minutes and 50 games later, I heard my husband coming down the stairs. I raced to greet him, not wanting him to see that I was playing games and had not written a word.

“How’s the column coming?” he queried.

“Hmm, fine,” I lied.

“What’s it about this week?” he asked looking directly into my deceitful eyes.

“It’s a surprise,” I said, thinking it was going to be a surprise for both of us.

I poured him a cup of coffee and made small talk, and then it was time for him to leave for work.

Determined to bang out a column, I walked once again to my computer.

I knew if I played just a few more games, my mind would start working. I was beginning to sweat. Another half-hour passed as I played the mindless game. Yet nothing came to me.

My stomach was growling, so I decided a little break was in order. I went back to the kitchen and fixed a big breakfast, thinking a full stomach was just the thing I needed to get the blood flowing to my brain.

At 8:45 the phone rang. Usually I don’t answer when I’m working on my column, preferring to call back after I’ve sent it to the newsroom.

But this time I picked up. It was a friend who just wanted to talk and I accommodated her. Hanging up the phone, I looked at the clock. Good God! It was almost 10.

Just then the phone rang again. Checking the caller ID, I saw that it was my husband.

Answering the phone, I acted like he was disturbing my flow.

“What’s for dinner?” he asked.

“I don’t have a clue,” I shot back. “I’ve been too busy to even think about it.”

“I’m sorry I disturbed you,” he said with real meaning.

“That’s alright,” I replied, hoping he didn’t hear the guilt in my voice.

I hung up the phone and turned back to my blank screen, thinking I needed to fix something special that night.

I dialed up the Food Network and for the next 20 minutes looked through the various recipes. I couldn’t find one that I wanted to prepare. And then it hit me! My binder of torn sheets had tons of recipes. And then I remembered I had tried to make sorting the pages my winter project.

Finally! I had a column idea!

But just as I was starting to write, my husband showed up for lunch a half hour early.

I usually have the column ready for him to read, but this time I had fewer then 100 words.

While he made his own lunch, I returned to my computer. But by the time he left to go back to work, I was only up to 300 words.

It was 1 p.m, and I was in a panic. It seemed every word was an effort. I’d write a paragraph and then delete it. I tried free writing and was all over the place. By 3 p.m., I was up to 700 words.

I needed 900.

By 4 p.m., I had the column finished. I spent the next hour spellchecking and reworking. My husband came home at 5 p.m.

I greeted him at the back door. I was still in my pajamas. I hadn’t washed my face or brushed my teeth. I hadn’t even walked upstairs the entire day. I didn’t have anything laid out for dinner, and I was exhausted.

I told him to fix some cereal. I was going to bed.

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