Am I blocked or just too busy at work?
Since my return from vacation in Germany I haven’t been able to write much, not with my short stories, nor with my blogs. I do have a very busy surgery schedule and there is nothing like 7 30 a.m. surgery start times – of which I have had plenty – to stifle my writing, since most of my creativity occurs early in the mornings. That said however, last Christmastime, when I returned from Turkey, despite a similarly busy schedule I went through the biggest burst of creativity, completing numerous half finished stories and a few brand new ones.
One of those was a sequel to Circus Plasticus, my shockingly candid story about the goings on in an academic Plastic Surgery service told in the first person and in present tense through the mouth of an irreverent intern I named Jarvis. This nearly 10,000 word story flowed out easily, and so did the sequel I tentatively entitled Jarvis Returns. It was around 11,000 words and described Jarvis’ junior resident experiences as a new neurosurgery resident where he almost got himself fired with his shady wheelings and dealings. The story wasn’t nearly as shocking as Circus Plasticus, but it hung together reasonably well. I sent it to Mim, my editor.
When I returned from Germany my ambitious story about a chocolatier who makes chocolate breasts was hung up at around 4000 words and in mid-stream, in need of more research that was impossible to do during my Rhine River cruise because of bad internet connections. I never quite regained my momentum, writing only one more scene while on a weekend away in my San Francisco apartment, that took many hours of research.
Days went by and my anguish over not producing increased.
Then, a few days ago Mim e-mailed me her edits on Jarvis Returns. She asked for a more catchy, action packed beginning and a better title. Otherwise she had liked it and thought it should be included in the anthology. Not only that but she suggested that I write yet another sequel, a Jarvis III, that we could then spread across the span of the collection. She demanded that it contain flashbacks and denouements to the prior two stories. This is the first time that I have ever been commissioned so.
More days passed, long days full of arduous surgeries and achy, fatigued evenings. Nothing happened.
Then this weekend, with the pace having slowed down despite being on-call, I had no choice but face my computer. Like all blocked writers I procrastinated, doing every other chore I could imagine until finally at 5 p.m. yesterday there was nothing else left. I decided to take up Mim’s request for a new beginning to Jarvis Returns.
To my pleasant surprise, not only did a new, more action packed start flow with much ease, I also came up with a catchy new title for the story, Jarvis; Off To A Good Start, a phrase I will infuse into various parts of the story, initially sounding hopeful, but as Jarvis gets into more trouble, turning ironic.
Encouraged by the break in the dam, this morning I began Jarvis III. I have very vague ideas about what this one will be all about, but I have come to trust myself that when it comes to Jarvis, no matter what, something interesting always rushes forth with momentum. Unfortunately I had to stop after only one paragraph, interrupted by an emergency room call from St. Jo’s. Afterwards I decided to write this blog before heading to the hospital.
I will drive off relieved and return home to the two Jarvis projects, confident that they’ll move on. I’ve come to love Jarvis as my own creation and at times, my savior.