Except … I think they only call it writer’s block once you’ve started and can’t get any further. I’m not sure what exactly they call a total dearth of ideas. Regardless, a weird thing happened yesterday that has made me think I’d like some ideas, so eventually I can get to the place where I throw up my hands, trash my desk, and curse the lack of creativity in my writing. Right now I’m just cursing the lack of inspiration in my life.
So, yesterday. I tagged along with Chris to the first meet-up of the Running & Reading program happening at a local school. There are 20 (I think) similar programs happening in Canada under the R&R banner, and basically it is a two-hour-a-week program that helps kids in schools located in lower income neighbourhoods develop their literacy skills and fitness levels. It is run entirely by volunteers, supported by donations from companies by Reebok and Scholastic, and from what I could tell is met by an incredible amount of enthusiasm from the students who have chosen to participate.
Running & Reading was founded a few years ago by a woman named Sylvia, who competed in the women’s marathon event of the 1984 Olympics in LA. After the fun and games were over and before the reading started, she talked to the kids for a few minutes about the importance of goal-setting and told them a story of how she made it to the Olympics, focusing her narrative on the day she set that goal, wrote it down, and stuck the note between the floorboards of her bedroom.
The story gave me an odd feeling of deja vu. When I was in high school, we had an Olympian come to my gym class to talk about goal-setting. She told a very similar story about writing down her goal to compete in the Olympics, and then stressed the importance of making your goals real by writing them down. In our next class, our teacher had us all write thank-you letters to the Olympian, and I remember writing in my letter that I was going to write a book one day.
I don’t know for sure that the Sylvia from Running & Reading and the Olympian from my gym class are the same woman, but it definitely seems that way. And it reminded me that I still have the same goal I had when I was 14, but I’m really no closer to accomplishing it. I have not had the Great Lightbulb of Inspiration appear above my head, I have absolutely no ideas or plans for plots or characters, and 13 years later I have no overdramatic teenage angst to fuel the creative process.
(As an aside: a rather large percentage of the great artists, writers, and musicians of the modern world were troubled by drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, or traumatic childhoods. I’m lucky enough to have none of the above, but it makes me wonder if we’re all just one opium pipe or shot of absinthe away from a Governor General’s Award.)
All of that is to say that I think I’m a little rusty. To remedy this, I’m willing to take requests. Blogging requests, flash fiction topics, article ideas, short story suggestions … if you can suggest it, I’ll write it. And if it turns into a novel, I’ll include your name in the dedication page and maybe even buy you a puppy, if that’s the sort of thing that makes you happy. Comment it up, faithful readers, and I’ll do your bidding. If you’re at all dubious of my commitment to this little endeavour, I can send you a copy of the truly awful story “Meataphorically Speaking” that I drafted one afternoon at work on a dare from my friend Dahl, who didn’t believe I could build a whole story around a steak.