My Unceasing Battle With Pratchett’s Californians.


My mind is in a sling – again! The plaster-cast is not yet ready to be removed. My imagination is tied in a malaise from which it can find no exit. My brain, filled as it currently is with grinding mundanities, has called in all available resources and completely shut down the tiny, sparkly bit (I’ve seen the TV animations) that controls creativity. The great steeplechase of life has pitched yet another hurdle in my path and I am currently waiting for the bloke to turn up with the step ladder.

When I began this little enterprise, I did so with the intention of publishing once a week. This became twice and eventually thrice. It suits me and, it accommodates the time that I would otherwise use less fruitfully. (At this point I pause for a while to consider the phrase ‘less fruitfully’, and quickly lose faith in the concept. We will say ‘less productively’.) I don’t lack ideas (except, perhaps, good ones) – in any case, if you’ve been reading me for any time you will, I am sure, have come to the conclusion that this blog does not rely on ‘the big idea’ to function. More often it relies upon the tiny gripe; the sudden understanding of a concept that the rest of the world has understood since the dawn of time; an itch that, without your participation, I would be unable to scratch.

Every now and then the routine day-to-day, augmented by the annoying, but ultimately surmountable obstacles that life is apt to chuck, fills such space as is available in my head and completely gums up the works. It’s an annoying happenstance, but common enough to not normally warrant mention – unless the annoying happenstance is all I’ve got to talk about.

I am not, I know, unique in this mental torpor. Anyone that has ever put pen to paper or finger to keyboard knows it. Normally, a period of writing inconsequential tosh (approximately forty years in my case) and a short spell in the thinking hat will shake me out of it. The WD40 of a single malt may be required when the cogs are more substantially seized. But today that is not enough.

To cut a long story wosname, short, the point towards which I have been laboriously working – like a disgraced Samurai snail – is this: as I am patently not alone in addressing this impasse, I must, likewise, be in very substantive company when it comes to groping around, searching for a solution. In much the same way that we all have a favourite method of tackling a hangover (mine features fried egg and coca cola) we must each have our own methods of plunging the plughole of creativity. On the basis that I am pretty much up for trying anything of which I am capable (probably not LSD, despite what it did for The Beatles) I would love to know what you do to lubricate the works. How do you – pardon my presumption – get the juices flowing again? I have been becalmed upon this sea for a couple of days now, my thoughts (such as they were) lost in The Bermuda Triangle of inspiration, adrift on a sea that offers only unfathomable depths. My usual methods have not, on this occasion, offered any forward thrust.

I would be massively grateful for any suggestions you are able to make. I need strong magic now that the enchantment has gone from my thinking hat. Help me now, or we could be back here again in no time…

‘There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.’ – Terry Pratchett

There Is No Means of Testing This Hypothesis, but the Fact Remains That the Dog Has Three Ears.

There is no means... (2)

Please, do not worry. No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog. There was no animal experimentation. No canine extremities were grafted where they did not rightfully belong. No canidaen genetics (whatever that might mean) were in any way modified.  “So what then,” you might well ask “Is this all about?” And I will answer “I really do not know.” You see, when I awoke this morning, there at my bedside lay a tiny scrap of feint lined paper, and upon it, not neatly written exactly, but certainly not illegible, I had written ‘His effete resistance was futile – the monkey, after all, knew its own way home’. The pen was there, the handwriting was my own. It’s not exactly an unusual thing. It happens often enough, although I seldom recall getting out of bed. I do not recall getting pen and paper and I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I wrote it down.

Anyway, I left the paper with my laptop, in case it ever came back to me (to date, it has not) but before I left the room I found another piece of paper, roughly folded and nestling on the other side of the desk, filled with several such epigrams – none of which I remember writing, none of which I fully understand. The handwriting, whilst undoubtedly my own, takes several forms from neurotically neat and precise to psychotically drunk and barely legible. I seem to have used a range of pens and, occasionally, a pencil when, I can only presume, I did not feel able to trust myself with a ball-point. I appear to have deliberately kept it with a view to making use of it at some time, but I have no idea how that might happen.

Top of the list is: ‘“Sometimes” said the man in the red plastic nose, “I forget what it means to be funny.”’ I can almost see the sense in that, but I have no idea why I wrote it down or what I intended to do with it. ‘Either I have consumed mind expanding drugs, or this hat is too tight’ is a little bit Woody Allen, but I think it rather points to the fact that I might have partaken of an ill-advised chunk of late-night blue-cheddar or similar because a little further down the page, in the same pen and with my handwriting in the same state of undress, I have written ‘We no longer share our lives: we co-exist – like Dhobi’s Itch and Anthrax’. It was obviously a maudlin night because further still down the page, in a hand that slants in all directions, as though written aboard the Kon Tiki during a force ten hurricane, I have written ‘Life ebbed away from him; unidirectional, double-speed; all tick, no tock…’ And finally, no less disconcerting because it is written in red pen – an implement I do not appear to possess – I have written ‘There is no means of testing this hypothesis, but the fact remains that the dog has three ears’. And if you think that I might have an explanation to offer, I’m sorry, but I don’t…