Writer’s Block? Extract from Written Off

Eric was keen to ensure that the level of conversation on their table was pitched at an intellectual level befitting their esteemed guest.   With all of the clockwork clunk of a chat show host he wound himself up. ‘I read somewhere that Dan Brown likes to hang upside down in gravity boots when he’s writing.   Do you have any particular habits you adhere to when you’re writing, Reardon?’

The author pondered for a moment. ‘Are you sure that wasn’t Bram Stoker?’ Nobody got his little joke, so he continued. ‘I was unaware of Mr Brown’s writing quirk but the revelation does explain quite a lot. Perhaps his books should be read in the same manner? I myself am a creature of habit. I like to be at my desk for 9am and write until 1pm. I take lunch for an hour and then write from 2pm until 5pm. I take weekends off.’

Seven heads around the table bobbed in acknowledgement. ‘So you subscribe to Auden’s diktat that routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition?’ Eric said, taking his interviewer duties rather too seriously.

Con chipped in. ‘Victor Hugo wrote in the nude apparently. And Lewis Carroll and Ernest Hemingway standing up.’

‘And Truman Capote wrote lying down,’ Reardon said. ‘Each to their own.’

‘Do you turn your email and internet off when you’re writing?’ asked Bronte. ‘It’s very distracting, I find.’

‘I never turn it on, so it’s hardly a problem,’ said Reardon. ‘I do, however, wear earplugs. No music, just earplugs to eliminate extraneous sound.’

Con, who normally listened to drone ambient while writing, had a further question. ‘And how do you break writer’s block, Reardon? That must be the biggest challenge facing an author?’

Reardon pulled a face. ‘Writer’s block is a psychosomatic affliction. Pullman nails this very neatly, I think, when he asks if plumbers get plumbers’ block? Of course they don’t.’

Con tossed a half-recollected factoid into the conversation. ‘I read somewhere about an author who masturbated to get rid of writer’s block.’

Alyson looked from face to face trying to gauge their reaction. At least she shared one authorial habit with the great and the good.

‘Are you sure that wasn’t a reference to Will Self?’ said Reardon. ‘He has been called an onanist by many people, but they may not necessarily have been referring to his techniques for summoning the muse.’



Written Off by Paul Carroll is available in paperback and as an E-Book from Amazon and usual sources.