Written Gems: Sketches of a Frustrated Writer

I want to write again.

But when I reach to put word in front of word, phrase in front of phrase, it slips away from me. I delete, and delete again, because nothing, nothing I write seems fit to see the light of day.

If I were still a chicken scratching on paper, I would have laid so many paper eggs of failure. Instead, I leave those stupid, trite, idiotic phrases on the page because I am frightened of nothing, having nothing to show that I can create, that I am still alive.

I am afraid of a blinking line and white space.

My old eloquence is a cloak too moth-eaten by time and misuse that it it might as well be a hanky for all the good it will do. I have no clever turns of phrase to arm myself with, no similes to direct like a veteran general, no metaphors to shelter my trembling, creative soul under. Nothing.

It’s naked. It’s withered. It’s dry.

It’s nothing.

I try to reassure myself that I am still creative, that I can still create. I’ve been knitting, crocheting, drawing. I have a whole bag and half a shawl to prove that I am not a great big fraud.


Everything I’ve done has been a facsimile of someone else’s work. I want to build iridescent castles on glass mountains with my bare hands, like I used to, but all I can do now is build cheap little copies of suburban cardboard boxes following someone else’s pattern. I can do nothing, nothing of my own.

I feel like I am back in preschool, trying to build towers out of three lopsided wooden triangles no one else wants. Instead of rough plastic and the click of keys, I feel worn varnish and the thunk of wood on wood (knock knock) under my fingers. Instead of musty college student, I smell five-year-olds, fresh tears and stale piss. Instead of tasting that I’m too lazy to get dinner, I savour the hope of jam sandwiches for lunch. Instead of fearing emptiness and failure, I fear nothing, nothing at all.

I was so determined to make that tower, even if I only had three triangles. In the end, I laid them on their sides and laid down too. There. The tower was taller than I was, even if it was tall in the wrong direction.

Then it was clean up time, and they put my tower away. But I had done it. I still remember it. Given mediocre talent, mediocre inspiration, mediocre materials, I had still built the damn thing. Given mediocre talent, mediocre inspiration, mediocre material, I have still written this damn thing.

It’s something, something after all.