It’s Thursday night and though the sun is not sunny, I have my laptop and am quite determined to have fun that is funny. I’m just settling down to a long winter’s write when out on the lawn (we don’t have a lawn - “this is not the lawn you’re looking for”) there arises such a ruckus that I spring up from my seat to basically procrastinate the hell out of writing. Again.
This is a familiar scene. And not just because it’s a collage of other, better scenes either. It’s the grand déja vu of my life all over again. I’m a writer who can’t write. I sit down to write and there are no words. I write nonsense, I mash all the keys together in desperation, I type in wingdings as though secret code will reveal hidden genius and depths I had hitherto left unplumbed. Nothing helps. In the end this is bound to be yet another dire essay on my inability to perform. (YES. By all means insert viagra jokes here. It happens to everyone.)
“You need to be less concerned with what you’re saying and more concerned with just... writing.”
“Are you... talking to me?”
“Yes. Obviously.” The giant caramel-brown teddy bear wearing faux-glasses I stole from a Brad at a Rocky Horror Picture Show night that one time peers at me. He (it?) has a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ tome open in his lap. He seems... disapproving. I feel my world unraveling. Either I’m imagining I’m talking to a teddy bear or I am talking to a teddy bear and either way I’m in dire straights, man. ‘We’re the Sultans, we are the Sultans of Swing’ enters my head immediately because the Dire Straits was a seriously decent band. I should listen to that song. I am interrupted (let’s call it ‘musicus interruptus’) by the bear who is tsk-tsking me. “You do this a lot. Get distracted.” He pushes the glasses up on his nose and calmly turns a page. He’s in the chapter ‘Piglet Meets a Heffalump’. He reads calmly.
I AM TAKING CRAZY PILLS!
I do get distracted easily, that’s a true statement. No less true for coming from a bear. I suppose I increasingly find it easier to riff off of shiny things, like a pop culture magpie, than to narrow my focus to a single item and massage meaning from it. Is ‘massage’ the word I’m looking for there? It seems too sensual to properly convey my meaning. I open the thesaurus. Oh my god, the word porn... words words words, everywhere, dripping off me... rubbing up into me...
“Ahem.” The cough, dry and deliberate, sounds a bit like a growl as well. I look at the bear. He’s got one eyebrow quirked. He gives me a long look then returns to his book.
Of course I’d own a properly mannered teddy bear.
He flips a page in the book. He doesn’t glance at me when he says “You should write something honest.”
“You don’t even have thumbs,” I say, petulantly. He rewards me with a withering glance. “What do you know about writing?”
“I know none of my abilities would exist without imagination.” He examines a drawing of Pooh with fascination. I have no argument to make against that statement so in a dramatic turn I opt for silence. After a time he continues. “I’m quite sure I wouldn’t even still be in your possession without your capacity for emotion.”
“So the fact that I’m openly conversing with a stuffed bear shows talent?”
“It shows madness of a sort which can be akin to talent if properly used.” The bear says this sagely.
“Madness does feature heavily in some of the best stories,” I agree. “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
“‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.”
“‘House of Leaves’.”
“You always choose the dark stories,” he chuckles.
“It’s hardly surprising you choose the ones that feature talking animals.” I throw a sidelong glance at him. It’s hard to read his furry face but it looks amused to me. He pushes the glasses up on his nose again.
“Well start writing,” he says finally in exasperated tones. “I can’t concentrate on my book with all your staring.”
“Fine.” I poise my fingers over the keyboard.
“Don’t force it, just let the words flow.”
“Yes sensei.” I mock bow. “Any other words of wisdom?”
“Berry tea with honey helps me think.”
“You’re pushing it.”
“Worth a try.”
I begin to write; about him, of course. When I steal a look, he’s lapsed back into dumb silence. He’s just a stuffed bear with a book on top of him. I am losing my mind. Madness runs in my veins tonight. It forces me through the writing, though.
He turns his head slightly and winks. The eyes go glassy inert the next instant.
I’ve written an entire blog post about conversing with a teddy bear.
I’m some kind of genius.
I’m some kind of desperate.
The words don’t always come, you know. They’re all inside me, tangled and shoving and clawing up my insides but there isn’t always a way to purge them. Sometimes ideas aren’t enough to free them. And sometimes nonsense is the trigger.
There are no rules to writing. Anybody who tells you there are is selling something. (Apologies to The Princess Bride.)
- Corinne Simpson