Editor’s note: This column was previously published in the Missourian.
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, I played a couple of games of my new obsession: Solitaire 13. By then the coffee was ready. I went to the kitchen and poured myself a cup. The morning paper had arrived, so I brought it from the front porch, 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. No, people will begin to think I’m a hypochondriac. 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 asked.
“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. Then it was time for him to leave for work.
I closed the door and glanced at the clock. It was 7:35.
Determined to bang out a column, I walked once again to my computer. I better see if there are any new e-mails, I thought. I knew I was stalling.
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. 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. I prefer 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. Hanging up the phone, I looked at the clock. Good God! It was almost 10.
I went back to the computer.
Just then the phone rang again. Checking the caller ID, I saw 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, sounding like he really meant it.
“That’s all right,” 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 had tons of recipes. And then I remembered that 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 less than 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. 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 spell-checking and reworking. My husband came home at 5 p.m.
I greeted him at the back door, 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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