This week I joined the ranks of the greats. F Scott Fitzgerald (‘The Great Gatsby’), Herman Melville (‘Moby Dick’), and Adele. No I didn’t visit Madam Tussauds or have a book of my columns published. Now wouldn’t that be nice? No, I’m suffering, as these three famous writers did, from writer’s block. But unlike these and other authors, writers and lyricists over the years, my ‘writers block’ has been brought on not by my inability to think of anything to write, but by not being able to access information at the right time.
The reviews I am asked to write alternate to this column depend not just on my own experiences and imagination but on other people. And therein lies the rub. Relying on others is never the best policy. My reviews are not investigative journalism. I’m not going to uncover any Watergate scandal at my favourite venue. I’m not going to interview ex-staff with a grudge, check the source of their ‘organic’ products, or scrutinize the stage to see if the guitarist really does know how to play. No, I want to talk to the people involved face-to-face. And I want to make my reviews as up-beat
I really don’t see the point in tearing someone’s work apart unless it really is justified and not just as a publicity stunt or self-promotion. And this week I couldn’t talk to anyone. Having semi-arranged a meet with one restaurant I discovered they had a press briefing the same day. A press brief that I was unaware of. (Their media person is not on the ball then. Oops, negative comment!) No point meeting them at the moment since they will probably get coverage in other media (if they invited any… slap on the wrist Jackie!). Another venue did not reply to my messages. And like I said, as I’m not trying to uncover any scandal, if you don’t reply, well that is your loss.
I do try to keep ahead of my articles, particularly if going on holiday or if I know I will be busy. That’s the other side of the coin. Perhaps I was too relaxed this week. Taking it easy after a few weeks of intense work. Too relaxed to
Meantime, I thought for fun I would Google writer’s block. The definition is “losing the ability to produce new work, or experiencing a creative slowdown”. It was first described as a condition by a psychoanalyst in 1947. Interestingly, the same psychoanalyst, Edmund Bergler, said that homosexuality is a curable illness. So we should not put too much store on his analysis. Maybe better to say that writer’s block is simply a burn-out. Not dissimilar to a burn-out suffered by an athlete, or by a busy mother or business man. Sometimes the body, or brain, simply forces us to slow down. But none of that helps my situation—the one where reliance on others can put up blocks of a different kind.
In my Google search I came across a restaurant and bar in Philadelphia called Writer’s Block Rehab. This looked exciting but as far as I can see from the limited pictures and reviews (they have no website) it’s only connection to writer’s block is that it has shelves of books inside. Not very original as there are several restaurants selling and/or offering books to read in situ
Described as ‘funky’ for its sofas, again I’m thinking of all the cafes and restaurants in Kathmandu with ‘funky’ seating and designs. But having never been to Philadelphia, maybe that is funky for that town? But what a great name for a café or co-working space here: “Writer’s Block Rehab”. So I’ve now patented the name. Contact me if you want to talk!