The greatest writer’s block is fear.
I’ve always felt a great attraction to the ‘elf’ faction of fantasy media. Tolkien elves, Eldar, Protoss – there appears in lots of fiction an archetypal team that is an ancient race, wise and often terse, and with a deep connection to lore. They often stand in the shadow of what they once were. Either they’re dying or their former empire has been reduced.
And with this attraction is a fantastic longing to live as one of them. To join their ranks and sing their songs. When we see something of ourselves in others we feel justified. We experience connection.
For the past four years, I have been a student. I took pride in that identity and although I was never a particularly good student I was invested. Furthermore, I was surrounded by students. In this culture of concentrated intellectual and artistic self-improvement, I found myself through others. Now that I’ve graduated, that world (at least, in it’s intentionality and concentration) has passed.
So I feel a bit lost. A tad banished from myself.
I took to rewatching Sherlock, the BBC series. I don’t have superhuman deductive skills, but I see in the narrative of the show a familiar desire to both soar above the daily drudgery and peer deeper into the truth of things. I’m sure there are many who share that desire, hence the existence of fantasy in general. I imagine there are few that revel in life’s banality.
I took to continuing reading. I sit surrounded by books of poetry, philosophy, theology, mythology, language, lyrics, and plays. I’ve read and reread with rekindled fervour, trying to chase what I fear I had once and now have forever lost.
And I took to silence. I’ve been collecting creative projects that I could do. I’ve been mulling over blogs I could write. I’ve watched world events pass and boiled over with perspective to share, though my audience is limited (mostly by my fear of the platform. The internet isn’t often kind to those who presuppose what they say is worth hearing.)
Where are the scholars? Where are the poets? Where are the seats of the classroom, where are the joys of the lecture hall?
They’re right in front of me, I’m sure. But I must learn to speak to them. What elves, Sherlock, poets, theologians, and youth-of-Athens-corruptors have in common is that in their “arrogance” and in their insight they didn’t keep their mouths shut.
Tomorrow – my thoughts on Thomas Hardy’s “The Church Builder.”