The open book: what writers don’t tell writers about writing (part 3)

Caren Gussoff Sumption
3 min readDec 30, 2020
Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

I cannot write my novel.

Not can’t write. I’m physically capable of the act of writing. I mean, I wrote this.

Not don’t wanna write. I wanna. I wanna hard. And, even if I didn’t wanna, that would not be the issue. I’ve done this long enough to know inspiration is bullshit, and the stuff you write when you feel afire is not one iota different than the words you feel like you have to drag to line up in sentences (seriously, write inspired, write uninspired, go away for 2 weeks and tell me you can tell the difference. Cuz you can’t).

Not not ever gonna. I will. This is a temporary condition. Probably. Definitely. I hope. I know. Pretty sure.

Just, right now, I cannot write my novel. I show up at my computer, with my notebook and all the trimmings. I tap at keys and make marks with pens, do all the things, sans ennui or malice, as proof. But, my control is gone.

Like, poof, about a month ago. I lost all my control.

Here’s what I mean: I have a novel manuscript. It’s in 3 parts. Part 1 is pretty done. Part 2 is ready for deep revision. Part 3 is wild chaos of badness. This is all fine.

I can neither pick up the threads I see, bare and clear, before me in Part 2 nor get loose enough to draft anything in 3.

Even giving myself permission to be lousy. Even telling off the little editor inside my head.

I’m clumsy, forgetful. I can’t find the voice. I do not have any control. I cannot write my novel. I’m flailing.

This, my friends, is what writer’s block really is.

I’ve been here before.

I’ll be here again, when this one passes.

It just happens sometimes. Sometimes, writers cannot write. Sometimes, at all — nothing comes, or nothing good, useful, or marginally interesting. Other times, it’s focused on a specific piece, like my novel, right now.

It does happen for reason/s, usually invisible until they trip you up, knock you down, and you flop around (because there is no way to make a flail into a dance move — I have tried).

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Caren Gussoff Sumption

Writer, dabbler, bon vivant. Nerdy words for nerdy people.