On Creative Torment

The little elves that operate the machinery in my brain are on strike. Well, some of them are. The sector that produces ideas is working overtime, but the ones who make those ideas intelligible have all either mysteriously disappeared (I blame werewolves) or thrown down their tools in a fit of self-righteous rage. There are a million things I want say, but every time I try, the words come out all clumsy and reluctant. I’ve got nothing to offer but tangled-up bubble charts and cryptic phrases scrawled on calculus assignments.

Incidentally, I’m supposed to be writing things now that will have a pretty significant impact on my future. While those bloody elves try to form their own little Bolshevik party (it’s kind of precious, actually; I don’t think they understand the concept of the proletariat).

So in the midst of this clash last week, I did what any sane teenager would do: I started writing an anguished journal entry about the implications of writer’s block for someone whose identity is so tightly entwined with her ability to express ideas. And somehow, it ended up reminding me why I keep trying: maybe I won’t write anything satisfactory or worthwhile in the next month, or six months, or year. But when the dam finally breaks, it’ll feel great.

Clackety-clack-clack. The rhythm of a happy keyboard, fingers whirring along without hesitation, letters lining up neatly on the screen. Ideas that bleed into one another in my head like so many drops of tie-dye on a threadbare white T-shirt contract into something corporeal, distinct. Comprehensible. People read what I’ve given them, glimpse the world through the same lens as I do for a fleeting minute, offer something new in return. The exchange is scintillating.

Of course, it rarely happens this way. Words are fickle: powerful and euphonic one moment, trite and inscrutable the next. There’s no way to guarantee that my thoughts will translate at all, let alone gracefully. But the old adage is unrelenting: the only way of getting better at writing is to write.

Frustration and a wastebasket full of crumpled-up first drafts is a small price to pay for the surge of pure, synergetic flow that comes from breaking the barrier between mind and pen.

P.S. Pleasepleaseplease don’t steal this essay. I need it for my Common App (;


3 thoughts on “On Creative Torment

  1. Well written essay about not being able to write well – hey, I get it, this ties back to the “juxtaposition” posting – clever girl!
    About the elves – don’t their origins sort of define proletariat – having no property, working in despicable conditions for an all powerful overload (granted, the jolly, bowlful of jelly thing is a good cover, but I think he shows his true Czarist sympathies in all that velvet and fur).

  2. If your little idea elves are on strike, appears you have seriously skilled strikebreaking scabs willing to fill in on your command. Your blog is wonderful, your writing graceful and brilliant. Thanks for letting us see through your lens.

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