If anyone were to look up from their dinner plates at me at this moment they would see someone on the verge of taking a plastic spoon from her empty soup bowl and gouging her own eyes out.
I’m at a restaurant under the false impression that I am going to be doing some writing this afternoon.
I need to leave my house, I thought. There are too many distractions here. Surely if I go out into the world inspiration will just pour out of me.
Instead I ordered my food, sat down, fitfully read over my first draft, got food, and persisted to languish over a blank document for almost an hour.
Now my food is gone but my frustration remains.
The reason being I can’t think of that first line.
Every good story has an amazing opening hook, one that sinks its teeth into a reader and refuses to let go. The line that’s like a rabid dog, frothing at the mouth, refusing to relent. The harder you try to shake free from it, the more it fights back.
I do not have that line.
I have a deadline, but I can’t stop resisting.
I type one line.
No, that’s wrong.
I type another.
Is this story even worth telling?
Would music help?
Should I read some more?
Does anyone else care whether or not I finish this?
Perhaps the problem is not with the sentence. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the work itself but the expectation I’ve placed on myself.
I try to follow the current. To let the voice and tone of the piece speak through me, nevertheless, there’s that wood pecker of a critic, pecking away at my brain as I type.
If I try to escape, to take a break, I will not come back to it. I will delay and wait for a perfect day that will never come. A day where I will be free of apprehension and self-doubt.
I wait for it.
I wait for it in the florescent lights, swallowed up by the light sound of chatter and the scraping of silverware on porcelain.