he screw was a half inch long, wickedly sharp and corkscrew-twisted. Tossed without thought into a truck bed, it had rattled out as the wheels bounced across the uneven railroad crossing. And there it had lain, piercingly sharp, until I’d wheeled along on the bike on my way to work. Somehow the passage of the front tire set it to dancing, it binged butt-first against the concrete just in time for the trailing tire to strike it dead on.
Bang! A reverberating shock shuddered my frame as I rode over it again and again, the tip of the screw hitting the hub. The air from the tire huffed out like air from a blown spacesuit. And there I was, on the side of the road, wondering what to do.
There was a lot of pacing, of calculating (how quick could the wife get here? How long would I have to wait?). Certainly a lot of cursing. Finally, I just decided fugit, and changed out the flat. Actually I’m pretty good at this. Fifteen minutes and I was on my way.
The ride still sucked. Every car passing me (even those with an extra lane to the side) hugged the bike lane. After a while, getting breezed my cars hurtling past at 50mph is no longer scary, simply annoying. I thought of my brother’s recent trip picture, of him and his daughter all blurring down life’s highway, everyone either on the phone or shooting selfies, and I thought, Good Christ, don’t let someone like this come up behind me.
And the last bit – trying to cross Keller Road on a marked crosswalk. Over twenty cars piled past and not one stopped. It made me wish for a big sandwich board, one that said, simply, You asshole!
So I did work for a few hours; no joy here. People seemed to have a case of the stupids. All I did all morning was clear up (or report on) mistakes, errors, oversights and non-compliances.
So here’s the test – during lunch, I needed to write a quick blog about something concerning writing.
And I certainly didn’t feel like it.
Look, Captain, we’ve been rained on, pushed on, bombed on…mortared on by Mulligan all the way from the Normandy beachhead!
So I didn’t feel like writing about writing. But I could write about not writing. This wasn’t writers’ block as much as it was writers’ caulk. Everyone on the planet had sealed up my creativity hole.
But I’m a writer (as I’ve said). I sat down at a restaurant at lunch and thought about it. I couldn’t figure out anything specific to write about, not a topic, no. But there was that image of the screw and the foreshadowing of the scene. I focused on it in movie-mode, of the description of the thing, of the backstory. After that, the other events seemed to flow in. And I was jumpstarted. It even lead to the humorous Kelly’s Heroes quote, one perfect for my mood. And now I’m writing away, flowing like a river of words.
So remember: there will be days when the baby won’t stop crying, when your spouse is inattentive, when the car needs a fan belt and the world just sucks lemons. And even though you have some writer time, you might not feel particularly interested in writing. But bottom line is – that is a choice by you to not write. And you can write, yes. But you’ll need to push, even if you need to focus on a single deadly screw.