I want to write. The kind of writing where every word sounds glamorous, almost as though spoken by a poet. Perhaps I’ll write of snow and how it falls white, unburdening the world of its sins. Or maybe I’ll not indulge the narrative of equating white to pureness. I’ll instead make snow black, to match the soul of this world. Would we be content then? A black snowfall for a black world, how beautiful. Yet, I cannot write of beauty. No, not of its trembling dandelions at the felt of a breath, nor of its lulling smell during fall.
To be a writer in this present is to be forced to detail the most wretched of events. Anything else would be a disservice to the truth and a neglect of the people whose stories are impacted by this wretchedness. Still, one must admit that it’s terrifying having to contend with your own dreary thoughts, while trying to rationalize a brute world.
Therewith, begins the story of 2020.
Starting like any other year, it was replete with good expectations. Some wished for job promotions, and others for high grades in their last year of high school. I wished to be free of myself, as my mind often went to that cliff, with its dark bottom, that hoped to consume me whole. COVID seemed a looming threat but we did not expect it would so rapidly change the course of our normal lives. Weeks passed and the death toll around the world rose from 200,000 to 300,000. The disease spread from Wuhan to Japan, Korea, and before we knew it, Europe. It was especially hard on Italy, where we saw that not only were the hospitals near the brink of destruction, but that Asian people were being targeted for the origin of the virus in an Asian country, irrespective of their cultural origin.
Eventually, this virus came to America, a place which had long been dealing with a spiteful disease known as racism. COVID more so revealed the catastrophic effects of racism in healthcare, as we saw that it affected African-American communities substantially. The reason primarily being that in the field of healthcare, black people are believed to be more resistant to pain and therefore require less treatment and medication. Likewise, many impoverished people died from the virus, when it was generally preventable. Undeniably, it is a sad thing to fall victim to a monstrously capitalistic and discriminatory system.Click here to place an order for this or any other related assignment
But, one cannot speak of this year without speaking about the death of heroes. People who seemed larger than life and commanded it with grace, reverence, and power.
I often think about Kobe’s passing, and how untimely it was. Then I wondered what Vanessa and her children must have felt, to lose their father, brother, husband, uncle, and even in death, have to share him with the world. It brought into perspective how mortal we all really are; how short of a time our presence is on this earth.
While COVID continued to spread, we saw that police brutality was rearing its ugly head. We all know this part of the story. But, I wish not to revel in the last moments of George Floyd. I wish not to remember him calling out to his dead mother, as his last breath left his body. I instead wish to speak about the many instances of police mistreatment before. The ones where police bashed into the ground, the heads of black citizens coming back from a funeral or the one where a black woman was arrested in an undignified manner, in front of her child. Where was the rage then? Those were filmed. Or are black people only worth fighting for after they are dead? Do people only see the issue after we have long stopped breathing?
Consequently, any good suppositions placed upon 2020 became juvenile fantasies. Most reasonable, as we came to deal with the passing of Chadwick Boseman. How cataclysmic it was; how grievous. To lose one’s hero, just as they had found them, seemed a truly sick joke. Still, I marveled at his strength and those who had to share him with the world, as he was dying.
I cannot still, at this present moment, write about beautiful or glamorous things. Nor should I be expected to. I must not make the mistake of judging 2020 yet, while it’s still telling its story. But I hope, if hope be an end to racism; to this pandemic, that it ends with a line where there is still some goodness left in the world.
The present, how forthcoming yet enigmatic. Revealing to us our fleeting mortality and the chimerical nature of time. Here it lies, in the palm of our hands the one minute, then gone the next. Believing we ever had the present or could keep it, was always covetous idealism.
Nonetheless, there I was, staring bizarrely at the white ceilings in my room. It was the kind of moment where one lies awkwardly, almost as though lifeless, with tears filling their eyes but never dripping. Just staring.
“We’ve been here before,” I thought. It is the contemptible stain that continues to haunt a people.
I had heard about the barbaric death of George Floyd but I could never bring myself to be a witness to his murder. I had seen it too many times before, like a vast ocean of agony and anguish. And with each wave, came the dying of my spirit, and a rage, which had always been there but never put to good use.
Thus, I avoided it like the plague it was. It stayed in the corner of my mind where I had filed the names of Emmet Till, Rodney King, and Trayvon Martin.
But, I had no control over how others would react; what they would say; or rather what they would share. They were still holding on to their humanity, whereas I felt mine had left some years ago. I had become numb. The kind of numb where death and bloodshed were thought of as normalcy.
However, it was inevitable. Sooner or later, I would be forced by social media or the news, to come face to face with the video. I would be expected to grapple with death and win, though I reckoned that both it and I would have something to lose.
Upon seeing it on Facebook and again on Instagram, a sigh of exasperation left my mouth and articulated itself in the simple thought, “the world likes reminding black people of their pain.”
Still, I wondered if the world would be bewildered, if it saw that our eyes burned it in fire.
Then four days passed. The protests came.
I, still tussling with death, went to my very first demonstration on the 29th of May. Perhaps, I pondered, if I attend this, I would not only be fighting for the rights of black people to have self-determination and equity, but for my life as well.
Therewith, I realized that the thing people never tell you about revolutions is that they are multifaceted. They are both selfish; belonging to you and largely reflective of the power of the citizenry. We each want something out of it.
Consecutively, I saw myself at every protest documenting, photographing, and writing. As I saw it my duty to document the zeitgeist, I wrote what came to be titled “Ablaze.” A piece,which in its nature, emphasizes the objective of the movement and criticizes the media’s tendency to be jaundiced.
While reporting that the protests were generally peaceful, as was expected of them, they focused their attention primarily on the pernicious few who thought it right to loot a store.
And despite the fact that I believed that looting was loathsome, I also reputed that “
Peace, [was] a stout pill to swallow/ When the copper’s savagery cavort[ed] like crashing waves, bringing the ills of the ‘morrow.”
In that, what must be realized is that a society that has treated its people with abhorrence; that has not given them the right to choose their own faiths; that has shown them images that teach them to hate themselves; that has raped their mother and lynched their brother; that has denied them the right to proper education, health insurance, and a chance in the job market; that has taught a history that is not their own, and relegated them to the role of slave, server, or brute, must one day reckon with the incontestable fact that they have created a morally monstrous nation. They must face the fact that these people, who have been subjected to this sort of treatment, will not remain peaceful.
“ Cities [will] burn in a blazing glory, telling [their] sorrows and [their] story.”
Comparatively, like Langston Hughes must have felt when he wrote “what happens to a dream deferred”, Baldwin when he wrote I am not your Negro, or Lorraine Hansberry when she wrote A Raisin in the Sun, I too feel as a writer in the moment, that it is my obligation to convey the black experience. Despite how melancholy I might feel, I believe that if I keep writing about the experiences of black people, I won’t lose this ceaseless battle with death because it is what ties me to my humanity.
Pointy Tips and Writer’s Myths
Time stands still. The thoughts cease. The blank expression against a white screen. Writer’s block they call it. A moment of uncomfortable stillness, where one must fight for their life and hope to win. At least that is what I image it to be for those who experience it.
Dwindling inspiration and creativity, as it relates to the writer, has perhaps existed since the inception of writing itself. However, Edmund Bergler, a psychiatrist of the 1940s, as noted by the New Yorker, coined the term “writer’s block” after having studied writers that were suffering from a lack of productivity. What he believed was that “Blocked writers didn’t “drain themselves dry” by exhausting their supply of inspiration. Nor did they suffer from a lack of external motivation…They didn’t lack talent, they weren’t “plain lazy,” and they weren’t simply bored.” (Konnikova 3). As such, it must be said from personal experience that it is generally not a matter of being lackadaisical or unimaginative, but of putting together words that speak to the heart and mind of the reader, that proves most formidable. Words, in their creation, will either prove to be virulent munitions or purveyors of peace and innovation.
Therefore, when writing, authors, composers, and poets alike, must grasp the power that rests at the fine point of their pen. But, it must then be asked, what causes the blockage? Bergler believes it to be personal issues that cause writer’s block. “ A blocked writer is actually blocked psychologically—and the way to “unblock” that writer is through therapy. Solve the personal psychological problem and you remove the blockage” (Konnikova 5). However, this way of thought does have many presumptions that may not apply to all writers. One might not have internal hardships they might be dealing with and oftentimes, writing can be completely impersonal, such as when writing a research paper or an essay based on a novel.
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Such brings me to my next point: that writer’s block is a myth.
We seek perfection; to put down words that save those that read them. We want the sigh of gratification, that connotes the reader’s understanding of a truth. Thus, we, and I include myself among the ‘we’, spend minutes; hours, staring at a white screen, laboring to find the right words. In high school, I was often awake past the witching hour, searching for the right words and phrases for an AP European History assignment. The reason simply being that there was a look that the professor gave me, which indicated that they understood what I was trying to convey. A look of certainty which left me with gusto and that revealed that the paper went beyond research. I too was on that page.
Nonetheless, we can never achieve that level of faultlessness, as people or as writers. The best we can do is try our best to articulate what we think and what we feel. In doing so, we’ll find out things about ourselves and the world around us that seemed to elude us before.
Rumaan Alam, an author, says “ I have a day job, I have a family, I have a life, like anyone. But you never stop thinking, and thinking is a part of writing too” (Temple 4). Therewith, one comes to the realization that much of the writing process happens outside of the page. We find the words in our daily lives. There is always inspiration to be found in the world and an author can never be uninspired, as long as they live their life. And as much as it might seem confusing to write the next words, writer’s must not spend too much of their time writing. Their role, if not realized before, is to be observers of the times in which they exist; they must convey the present and they cannot do that if all of their time is spent looking at a screen.
Konnikova, Maria. “How To Beat Writer’s Block.” 2016.
Temple, Emily. “Is It Real? 25 Famous Writers On Writer’s Block.” 2018.