The block I’m talking about is not of cheese. It’s something that all writers and artists face, I’m sure, and as such it may be just natural and not a “block” at all. But that doesn’t make it pleasant.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing. I’ve been scratching at paper. I’ve been banging my head against the wall. I suppose you could call that writing. Yesterday, I decided to give my head a break, put aside my implements of torture, and go to the art museum. I walked and walked and walked. I looked at everything; my eyes were greedy. Every few hours I would sit in front of a Sargent painting. Then I walked some more and witnessed little girls sitting in fold-out chairs sketching Renoir and Monet. I saw a teacher with a red pointer light standing in front of a landscape with a bunch of eight year olds, doing her best to bore them to tears. I looked at old shoes, jewelry, clay pots from Mexico, impressionist portraits where you can see the strokes of paint on a girl’s apron in layers of white and pale blue. I took a break and bought a postcard of a painting I had met that morning, drank some tea and ate a slice of pie. Rejuvenated, I resumed my walking: medieval Christian iconography in the little dimly lit chapel, the colors impossibly vibrant. The Buddhist sculpture behind glass that I imagined I saw twitch and then I imagined him standing up and waving his six arms at me and tapping on the glass between us telling me to let him out. I calmed myself before the buddhas with their serene stone faces and smooth pale jewels on their foreheads.
So much of the art made me think about the artist, whose shadow lingers over the work itself, and over me. The passion, compulsion, time, effort, faith and devotion involved in creating a piece of art. Never mind just the skill, the talent. The effort itself moved me; the dedication of the artist to his creation. It reminded me of the awe I felt walking into those ornate churches in Florence and Paris, amazed by what artists could achieve in the name of art and beauty and faith–they created heaven on earth.
I walked and walked. My feet hurt. I started to enjoy the art better where the rooms were carpeted. Then I found myself in a dimly lit room, quiet, the floor carpeted and the walls lined with prints. I sat on a chair and took out my notebook and wrote. I looked some more and wrote some more. I didn’t write anything fantastic, but the act of writing felt good, finally. My brain felt better than it has in a while. It’s a long road to write a book–for me, it is. And I have to start somewhere.