The Writers’ Block Party
The Writers’ Block was having a party, and everyone was coming. A cause for celebration had been identified: it had now been three full years since Blake Smith had begun his career of writing about not-writing, and during the course of these three years, Blake had carved out for himself a permanent place in the history of the conspicuously non-creative mind. Perhaps it seemed strange to celebrate one man’s forging of a genre about not being able to create a genre, but then the Writers were an odd bunch to begin with: they were the type who wore their hearts on their sleeves, and that would have been bad enough. But to add insult to injury, they were always pointing out their hearts to you, especially if you were trying to do something productive yourself. Like eat your lunch.
It was a Writers’ Block Party in the grand tradition, since it was to take place at roughly the same time, in roughly the same tired ways, and with roughly the same amount of enthusiasm and talent. As was their habit, the Writers would celebrate the block party separately, each Writer at his or her home, by themselves, behind closed doors, and in the quietest of ostentation. There, comfortably isolated and insulated, the Writers would nibble on stale biscotti and raise their macciatos to one another, insincerely, bitterly, with jealous and angry hearts. This was their way, and it had always been so. The only thing marking it as a true celebration to the outsider was the occasion of a Writer dropping in at the home of another Writer–abruptly–they might just bust in with an exclamation of support or agreement, at just the right time. This was a tradition which nobody really understood or cared to understand, but in which they participated because, like most traditions, it made them feel like they belonged.
Not that they wanted to belong.
Because the truth was that the Writers lived in a neighborhood of suspicion and deceit. Once upon a time, they had established this neighborhood through default; like all pioneering communities, it was originally comprised of whomever showed up, and everyone who showed up was congratulated, warmly congratulated, merely for showing up. Showing up was not only good enough, it was fantastic. It was something they came to expect. And if there was a discrepancy in the abilities of all of the Writers, it was irrelevant, because nobody else was paying attention.
But then one day, some other people started paying attention, and some of the Writers moved out, into a larger gated community, that seemed lovely and exclusive from the outside, but which some of those left behind Writers assumed must actually be tortuous and spiritually draining. They knew this because they had never seen it, and deep down they worried they might not ever see it. And they knew that if they never did see it, if they never did get behind those gates, then it was because somebody was keeping them out, refusing to celebrate them as Writers. They knew there was some other party taking place somewhere else, behind a gate and beyond their ability to see, and it was all unfair and unjust and they were sick of it. And they told each other of it, and were sick of it together, each one knowing in their deepest hearts that they were different, and that the rules that applied to everything else in life and everyone else in life did not apply to them, that one day their persecution would end and they would wake up behind the gates with eunuchs fanning them and slave women feeding them grapes.
But what was worse was the new people moving into the neighborhood, the ones who hadn’t even been there from the start, and who were they and HOW DARE THEY. And by now the not-creating had taken up residence on the block, it hung above them like a big black cloud, mocking them in their inertia; and so while they said they were to celebrate Blake Smith’s three years of non-achievement, the truth was they had envisioned a block party as a means of rediscovering their voices, of making them whole again. Of helping them to create something that might get them behind the walls, even if just for a moment.
But the Writers’ Block party would end as all of the block parties had ended before: with the construction of more walls and the addition of more blocks, with the emptying of mugs and nibbling of fingers, the tapping of keys and the breaking of hearts. And the next morning, they would wake up and start the whole process over again, scrambling over each other to find the last piece of stale biscotti.