It’s a Friday afternoon. I’m at the office. My fingers hover above the keyboard in anticipation. I’m working on a profile about a local artist that’s due to my editor in an hour. I’ve barely written the lede. I’m struggling. Harder than I’ve struggled before. It’s a straightforward story. I did the interview at her studio so I could see her work firsthand. I spoke with her past students and husband. All the heavy lifting is done. Now I just have to write. I just have to craft the story. But I’m hopelessly stuck.
I haven’t gotten writer’s block like this in a while. Usually my fingers just run across the keyboard, like they have a mind of their own. They know exactly what words go where and where to put the correct punctuation. The story flows out so fast that my fingers struggle to keep up. They trip over themselves as the rush to get the ideas out. A quote here, a colorful detail there. It’s a delicate pattern that I’ve grown accustomed to. But today, it’s like I’ve forgot the key to the map. I have an hour to finish this story and still have another piece in the works for Monday.
I’m at a standstill. Trapped on a gated bridge between two ideas, with no way out. I can’t go back. I’ve already started the profile and need to finish it. And I can’t go forward to the next story without knowing I’ve completed this one. So I jump. I push the profile’s deadline until Monday and hope that I can shake this sickness by Sunday evening.
I’m not sure how long I’ve been blocked. Maybe since before the summer began. I’ve been writing for a local newspaper but my stories have not given me the same adrenaline rush I usually get when I’m knee deep in news. I return to Maryland every summer and work non-stop so I can afford to live in the city during the school year. But I can’t say I don’t feel a tang of regret for not traveling abroad and taking a bunch of pictures to post on Facebook.
I return to the same Montgomery County bubble ever summer. The same bubble I fought so hard to escape from during high school. My excruciating writer’s block may be a product of my environment. The rut I’m stuck in until school starts up again and I can finally return to the place I truly call home.