Thursday, April 16, 2009
A Cure for Writer's Block
Cauvery Madhavan, a novelist from Co. Kildare, is here once more, this time to finish her third novel, which she did and sent to her agent at 3:00 A.M. this morning! [Congratulations!!!] As part of her life as a full-time writer, she has also written a column for the Evening Herald called "Paddy Indian," from the title of her first novel. Here she shares her take on overcoming her writer's block at Anam Cara while at her desk in the Sunset Room:
Being a writer leaves you prone to periodic bouts of writer’s block. This is good because it allows you to be creative with the solutions. They don’t have to be sensible or logical; they just have to work. There is no point in telling a writer not to procrastinate - that’s like telling a monkey not to scratch. It doesn’t help to ask a writer to get a grip, we might let go of the only straw we are clutching at. After all, if you have writer’s block at least it affirms your belief that you are a writer.
My solution involves driving five hours to West Cork to sit at a desk by a window. This is no ordinary single-glazed window with stiff catches and beads of condensation glinting in the early morning sun, for beyond it is the Ireland I love. A few yards from where I sit, the Kealincha River rumbles over a series of tall upright rocks, moving swiftly past banks of hazelnut groves in a headlong rush towards the wide expanse of Coulagh Bay, a mile or so away. On the flat sands where river meets ocean, the mingling of waters is fluid and gentle; they wrap arms around each other like long lost friends.
Miles across the bay are the mountains of Kerry, and I look at houses, mere dots on that faraway peninsula, and speculate about the lives of people who live in them. Is there anyone there, in distant Caherdaniel, struggling with writer’s block, or am I the only one sitting at a window? Closer still is Kilcatherine Point, where ancient stone walls run right down to cliff edge and a yellow tractor parks up in the yard by a pink farmhouse. An inconsiderate husband, no doubt - he could have gone for a more compatible colour. Nearby a lone bull who has been galloping the length and breadth of his steep field suddenly comes to a stop beside a bank of bright yellow gorse. What’s his story I wonder?
Even as I write, the green collage of hillside pastures begins to fade in a fine mist. A band of rain moves in, and the wind plays with the rain, driving it in sideways sheets. I am not despondent; I can see the clearance following from the West; there will be rainbows, and soon I’ll be waxing lyrical again.