The Fieldstone Review

Moose Thoughts

A Little Meditation on Writer's Block (in various voices)

 

"But, what the moose did think was

Well?

"But, what the moose did think was that

Hm.

"But, what the moose did think was

Oh, come on. What's he thinking? 8 pages, 3,131 words, and you're stuck here! You wrote the beginning no problem. You like the way the boy has made his way into this world and how he interacts with the moose he's met. You wrote those parts like gangbusters. Now there's a poor simile. Simile. It looks so much like smile. Is there any more ginger ale in the fridge? Why does gingerale get underlined in red when I make it one word? It's one word, isn't it?

"But, what the moose did think was that

Damn. Come on, moose, think. I know where the story needs to go; I know that the moose is going to ask the boy to help the animals in this world to get out of a dilemma; the problem is that wolverine has stolen the magic and the world has come to a stop and if it doesn't start again the world is going to really stop, as in die. How ironic, given my dilemma. I just need to make a transition, that little leap, a few sentences, and then I can carry on.

"But, what the writer of the story did think was that he needed to find out what the moose was thinking in order to get the story moving again. He didn't, however, know how to do that. Then he had an idea. Just relax, he told himself. Imagine that you're the boy trying to figure out what the moose might be thinking; don't think about it, just do what an imaginative kid might do to try and figure out a problem. Okay: The boy looked up at the moose. It was a big moose. "Boy," whispered the boy, "that's a big moose. I wonder what it's thinking. Let me just get my handy-dandy ladder here," the boy continued, speaking to himself as he was wont to do. "Can I just lean this here? Right. Thanks. One two up we goo. There. Whoa," he said, using his favourite interjection, "that canal's as dirty as the old Love. Hey, Moose Moose Moose Moose Moose Moose, what the heck are you thinking? Anybody home?"

Just a few words. Something. Anything. But the hard part is that it needs to be more than something; it needs to be right. Even if it's just a little part. It needs to be like what Maria does to Malvolio with her letter. She's just a minor character, but her words find their way into Malvolio's head, into his heart—they transform him, make him her puppet. She had to know her audience; she had to have the insight into how to write the words so that he wouldn't see her trick, and when he finds the letter, he believes! Even when the words don't quite make sense, they make him want to believe them. That's good writing. No, that's great writing because the author doesn't even seem to be a part of the equation any more. It's just the reader and the text. It's the reason, and now I see it, why Terry doesn't want to see a picture of the author on the jacket of the novel she's reading. She doesn't want to know that someone's created the text; the text needs to create the reader, or, maybe, at least, recreate the reader. That's the beauty an author strives for. It's marvelous if the writer can get it right. Like when Alden Nowlan says in his poem, An Exchange of Gifts:

As long as you read this poem
I will be writing it.
I am writing it here and now
before your eyes,
although you can't see me.
Perhaps you'll dismiss this
as a verbal trick,
the joke is you're wrong;
the real trick
is your pretending
this is something
fixed and solid,
external to us both.
I tell you better:
I will keep on
writing this poem for you
even after I'm dead.

That's what I'm looking for. To create something. Alive and beautiful. To have my audience hear the skitter of autumn leaves playing like puppies on the newly paved road as I walk home from work; to see the desperate elegance in that man plodding awkwardly along the sidewalk, his right arm curled up cruelly by his side, his cane leading his way shaking like a sapling in a storm; to smell cigarette smoke on a cold day and turn and be surprised not to see my grandmother, dead now these past seven years; to hear the staccato tap of footsteps outside the window on a rainy night; to taste lemons jigging in the bubbles of a glass of soda water while geese honk on the pond. But it's all got to come together and put the reader someplace he or she doesn't quite remember being before. So.

"But, what the moose did think was that

No one said this was going to be easy.