I have been working on an essay for two months. The piece is intended for a blog and is less than a thousand words. In short, the writing I have been doing is not of any particular import and does not call for in-depth research. Why the hell can’t I hurry up and finish it? That is a fantastic question that deserves the bizarre answer I came upon last week.
I have always been told that writing is my gift. Before I was truly literate, I scribbled and called it writing. In middle school, I kept meticulous journals. In high school, I excelled in English courses during the week and did spoken word on the weekends. I used a typewriter in high school and journalism school not simply because I was channeling some long dead Luddite but because when a word is typed on a manual typewriter it takes work to erase it. I felt like a typewriter helped me be more intentional about the words I put on the page. I am obsessed with word and story.
However, writing has never been easy for me. I see my written work as a very real extension of myself. That being said, I would never submit anything anywhere that hadn’t been proofed a dozen times. I check text messages for typographical errors three times minimum before I hit the send button! I am a slow writer and I am good with that. But my writing had slowed to a crawl in the past few months. I knew something was wrong.
Since dropping out of college, I have admittedly written less. I needed to really listen to peoples’ stories, not try to record them. I needed to shut up so I could soak in things most people don’t ever get to see or hear. This listening skill, this ministry of presence is still invaluable but I know I need to write now. So when I couldn’t, I thought I might just be out of practice. So I practiced. Nothing. Then I began to panic. Perhaps, I have lost my voice. I did not use my gift and now it’s gone.
It was about this time that I began waking up with unexplained dizziness. The feeling matched descriptions of vertigo, although I’ve never had vertigo. My eyes strained to read words in books and on computer screens. If I attempted to focus for too long on reading or writing, a splitting headache would take hold. This dragged on for nearly two weeks. I saw an acupuncturist and felt some relief but was in no way cured of the dizziness. And then a friendly homeopath who I barely know, offered to make a house call. I agreed.
I have taken two homeopathic remedies in my life. One remedy worked and one didn’t. But in both instances I was given a remedy for an illness that could be unequivocally diagnosed. I didn’t know what the dizziness was or was caused by so I couldn’t just be handed a remedy. Instead, something could only be prescribed after a consultation. Homeopaths believe that a lot of illness comes from emotional or subconscious response to surroundings, and illnesses often continue so long as they are beneficial to the patient. I told the homeopath my symptoms. She asked me if I was stressed out about anything. I didn’t mention the writing thing. That’s too personal I thought. I would be a little too vulnerable if I admitted how much I wanted to do this thing. She knew I was hiding something. Eventually, I caved and laid all the cards on the table.
This person who barely knows me hit the nail on the head. She said a phase of your life has ended. You know what you need to do in this new phase but you’re scared. You are stalling and your body is helping you. That’s right. I had a physical manifestation of writer’s block. I was scared that I couldn’t write anymore and my body came to the rescue by making it impossible for me to try and fail.
Twenty-four hours after this consultation, my symptoms had all but disappeared. I was never actually given a remedy. I went to see the acupuncturist once more complaining of some persisting eyestrain. By the next day, I felt completely well. I began writing again with renewed speed, purpose, and just the right amount of proofing.
photo of street art in asheville, nc