Have been bombarded lately with Tweets and Feeds about the torment of writer’s block. Writer’s block can silence even the most talented and disciplined.
I no longer consider fallow periods, non-productive, quite the contrary, while I’m away from my writing, and instead sorting, discarding, and rearranging of every item in our closets to a Zona perfection, I’m toiling over flat chapters or submersed in profoundly painful introspection.
My writer’s blocks have been due to things like loss and unrelenting grief, apprehension over our sons, and medical emergencies, but nothing brings me to my knees, pounding uncle, like a feathery light-scribbled comment in the margin from my editor during seemingly endless revisions of STRETCH MARKS.
I had to dig deeper, go back, and feel the gritty sweat of fear and desperation in Ciudad Juárez. I refused at first, but my editor has a way of bringing me down from the ledge.
Chapter XVI – September 1998
“…I turned off the light well after midnight and stared out the small thin-paned window. The fan was on low now. Sirens circled the block. Toilets flushed, furniture moved, conversations started and ended as I inventoried my day. The shattering of glass dispatched one hand underneath the pillow for the mace and with the other grabbed my glasses. Like a military exercise, I jumped to my feet flat then peeked around my doorway, expecting gunfire or evil incarnate. Please, I prayed, don’t let me pass out. Was it the living room or kitchen window? My eyes acclimated to the dark. Nothing moved inside the apartment. I darted to the boys’ doorway. Sound asleep. Thank God. I picked up a wooden toy truck with my free hand and almost dropped it when another crash of glass weakened my courage. The faint light against the kitchen curtains faded. The street light had been decimated. Again. My heart thundered against my collarbone. My mouth so parched it hurt to swallow. I peeked out from the kitchen curtain. A van was parked out in the street with multiple cars in front and behind it. I let the curtain go and stood against the wall shivering with fear. A door slammed. Motors started. One by one each vehicle drove away until an eerie quiet entombed the neighborhood. Was anyone else crouched behind thin curtains witnessing this along with me? Even though my tongue felt like sandpaper, I didn’t dare open the refrigerator. I felt around for the water jug at the end of the counter and remembered the cup by the sink. I drank and held the cup to my chest. The screeching of sirens and howling dogs now calmed me. I’d call Marty as soon as the boys woke up. I fell asleep sitting up in bed, mace in hand.”