Writing When Stuck


As part of my 500 words for 50 days, I need to make sure I meet my goal even when I’m stuck on whatever the main project is at the moment. Currently I’m rewriting a horror story about NYC subways and just couldn’t get my mind and fingers around what needed to happen next. Rather than sit for hours and beat my head against the metaphorical wall, I decided to just write something, anything. Got out a pad of paper and began. So, for the curious or curiously bored, I’m posting tonight’s writing exercise. I plan to continue with this character on those days when I get stuck on other projects and so it will be aimless, idiosyncratic, possibly funny, most certainly nonsensical and, maybe in small doses, mildly amusing to you:

I am in a room. I walk along one wall in 12 paces. Another in 16. A third in 9. The forth in, again, 16. If asked, I will swear that the lengths stay the same but sometimes it is the 1 wall that is nine, another is sixteen, a 3rd is sixteen as well and the 4th is twelve. Or visa versa. On the shortest wall, regardless of which one it is, there is a door that is barely distinguishable from the wall. Both door and wall are a pale and off-white with the merest hint of yellow. Like stained teeth, that color is. In the door is another small door that can open or close. That door is the width of both my hands outstretched, from pinky to pinky and the same height. Through that opening (when it is, indeed, opened), slides a plate of food and, following a moment thereafter, a jug of water each and every afternoon. I say afternoon because the food (as you will see) is not breakfast food.

The plate of food varies some, though not by very much. I can usually count on some sort of protein that is most often a meatloaf, though sometimes I may receive a piece of chicken and, even less often, white and flaky fish seasoned with butter and lemon and pepper. The meatloaf is often too dry and is always bland. Like it is pretending to be a meatloaf and failing.

“You, Mr. Meatloaf, are like a bad comedian on stage that nobody laughs at,” I sometimes say to it as I spear a piece with my fork, bring it (tines facing down like I saw rich people in a movie once) up to my eye level and, winking at it, I then bring it to mouth level and pop it in: chewing and, if it is a dry day, swallowing hard to get it down. Of course I only say that on days when I feel exceedingly silly. Which is to say: not very often.

The chicken is usually better. I guess because they have less chance to make it poorly. I must admit, however, when the chicken is made poorly it is even worse tan the worst meatloaf. The poorly made chicken is usually rubbery and undercooked. I don’t believe that they are deliberately trying to give me trichinosis, just that the person(s) making my food that day are not very competent. I don’t ever say anything to the chicken.

The fish is always perfect: flaky but moist, prepared simply but the butter, lemon and pepper are all balanced perfectly well. I greatly enjoy my meal when it is fish and will, once in a very long while say, “Thank you Mr. Fish for being so very good.” Only, and I must stress this point, once in a very long while.

In addition to the meatloaf/chicken/fish, there is almost always—and by “almost always” I mean 999 out of one thousand meals—a starchy food like rice or potatoes or yams. The rice is always white and sticky, the potatoes always mashed and with plenty of butter and salt and pepper, the yams always cubed. Funny story: when I was a child and when asked what my favorite food was, I would say, defiently even, “mashed potatoes.” Now? Well, I would just have to say it is a toss-up between the mashed potatoes and the fish. The fish really is very good. Cod I think, but it could be haddock. Even though I lived in New England, I can’t say I was a connoisseur of fish. I never really distinguished between the different kinds of ocean white fish. Don’t, please, misunderstand, I can tell salmon from tuna from swordfish of course. That is easy. But cod from haddock? Well. I suggest you try and get back to me with your results.

. . .

. . .

. . .

I apologize. There was no call for me to get “huffy” as my Mother would have said. “No need to get all huffy she would say to my Father. Though why she insisted on saying that when it always, from my perspective—my admittedly limited perspective as a child—made my Father more “huffy,” I don’t quite, to this day, understand. Be that as it may, and letting us let sleeping dogs lie, I again reiterated that there was neither call nor cause for me to get huffy.

As well, I had thought myself finished with the fish which is why I moved on to the potatoes. I will attempt to be more linear in my presentation of my life.

On this day..