Some days I would rather do anything than write, which inevitably gives way to a game of self-deception.
The game begins with a glance out the window under the guise of seeking inspiration. I hone in on the dandelions instead.
“Must eliminate,” I mutter like a section eight patient and head outside to hunt down militant weeds.
After finishing my murderous rampage and disposing the dandelion remains in a body bag, I stopped to catch my breath by a flowering rhododendron plant. Powerfully pungent, a whiff of the fragrant fumes sent me into a hallucinogenic trance, killing brain cells I had put aside for writing.
“Nice try.” The now talking rhododendron said. “Get back in the house and write. You’ll grow more brain cells on the way.”
Not wanting to anger the rhododendron, I dropped the body bag and staggered back inside, collapsing by the foot of the stairs covered with dandelion DNA.
In penance for picking dandelions instead of words, I climbed the stairs on hands and knees and then embedded my butt into the chair in front of the computer. I peered into a cold, white screen that reminded me of a barren frozen wasteland. The thought chilled me, freezing my fingers and bones. Shaking uncontrollably, I retreated to the bedroom for a sweater and then returned to the blinding white screen that now beat down upon me like a hot Sahara sun.
I removed the sweater and typed three words, “Fear of Writing” then stopped. What if I can’t write anything of merit? I grabbed the mouse and moved the cursor to the Internet icon, deluding myself that I would find inspiration in cyberspace — another self-deception.
I released the mouse and stared at the white screen that appeared to be staring back at me in a judgmental sort of way. My pulse raced and my mouth turned dry. I didn’t have to do a Google search to know that I was afraid to write.
What would a shrink say?
“Ms. Salkin, I’m afraid I have bad news. The symptoms you describe: sweaty palms, easily distracted, palpitations, dizziness can only mean one thing – Panic Scribe Syndrome.”
“Is it serious?” I asked.
“Only if you obsess on it like I do.”
“How can I cure myself of Panic Scribe Syndrome?”
“Does the phrase ‘vicious cycle’ mean anything to you?” I screamed.
“I’m afraid that’s all the time we have.”
So, maybe a shrink wasn’t the answer. Maybe I needed to increase my dosage of Vitamin B, try Yoga, or Acupuncture. Maybe a morning jog down a slippery slope, or a spin around the neighborhood on a stationary bike would cure me of my fear of writing, unless it killed me first.
Already mired in guilt from not writing anything good or bad, I succumbed to the “poor me” part of my brain and asked, Why do I write? Why do I attempt to write? I pondered the question for a minute or two before I concluded, because it makes me feel good.
Another of life’s ironies. How can something that makes you feel so good also make you feel so bad? I couldn’t answer the question. “Maybe I should Google it.”
“There you go again,” said the shrink, echoing Ronald Reagan’s words.
“You’re right,” I said. “I mean. I’m right.”
I dimmed the bright computer screen and positioned the cursor beneath the title, “Fear of Writing.” It only takes a second to become distracted. I typed, following the advice of the phantom shrink I neglected to pay.
“The only cure for Panic Scribe Syndrome is to write.”
Gee. I wish I had thought of that.