Writer's Block

I have been writing comments on student papers all day, in fact, for several days. This morning when I returned to my office at the college, I found a strange little book on my desk, Writer's Block, and a cryptic note, signed, I think, by my friend Marianne. Here's a quote from the book:

"Ironically, when asked to write about writer's block, I'm at a loss for words," says Phil Gulley, a Quaker pastor as well as the author of the best-selling essay collection Front Porch Tales and the fictional Harmony series. "Fifty sermons a year for the past 18 years, 9 books in 11 years, and not once have I fallen silent. I sit at my desk and the words come, sometimes slowly, but they eventually arrive. To be sure, some of my efforts lack a certain sparkle, but I've never missed a deadline.

"Writer's block, I'm coming to believe, was a myth begun by underappreciated authors who wanted to make their craft look harder than it is. I once picked up road kill for a summer. After a week on the job, I developed road kill block. I did all I could to avoid the task. Phoned in sick, vomited in the boss's truck, and spent evenings looking for another job. But this was in the early Reagan years, jobs were scarce, so I returned to the road kill.

"Since then it has been etched in my psyche that if I fail as a writer, I would have to return to my road kill job. With an incentive like that, I can't afford writer's block.

"My biggest worry isn't that I'll run out of things to say, but that I'll run out of time to say them, that God, in his peculiar way of doing things, will yank me from this world before I've thrown in my two cents.

"I have a friend who writes for a living who is regularly cursed with writer's block. He's lived a pampered life, is independently wealthy, and can easily afford such luxuries. When words fail him, he goes to Tuscany for a month to play golf. Someday, I hope to be able to have a writer's block like that."