The pen is bleeding

When we say writer’s block, we have this idea of words unable to come out. Silence, hollowness, rather than anything else. The blank paper, the pen out of ammo. But what if the pen is not out of ammo, but simply bleeding? What if the block is not silence, but the noise of struggle, the gasping and panting of an agonising spirit, not an image of inaction but one of anxiety and agitation?

Everyone who’s ever put the pen down to paper has also experienced the suspended pen, the space of non-committment, the fork in the road that won’t let go. Unable to move, the pen floats over the blank page, while ideas ruminate without hope of ingestion or digestion. The fog of war cloaks the interval between words, the space where momentum forms and the pen is pulled forward by an invisible force.

Who’s blocking the space? What prevents progress? There is no satisfactory answer to these questions, though many have been attempted. But the pen is a living thing, powered by a force of life. And when it bleeds, the writing stops. Paralysis, rather than blockage. In a self-regarding moment, the pen understands its predicament and its inability to take sides, to find resolve and purpose and risk everything for the sake of a phrase. There’s no going back, though technology allows it. Once written, it stays written, despite subsequent erasures.

If only we could read what has been written and erased, the hesitations, the bleeding, the irresolution, the struggle between the silence and the noise, the one and the many.

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