I believe this is called the 'blank page syndrome'. Have you ever had this? It's very frightening!
I have written about 25,000 words and it had been flowing beautifully but now, everything has dried up. I want another 50,000 and have no idea where they are going to come from. 'Frightening' is probably not a strong enough adjective about how I feel: perhaps 'erupting terror' should be in there somewhere. The novel is about rain forests, animals, shaman, trees, and such things. Being of the analytical sort, the problem, I decided, is that DL, even with the good light, is nothing like a rain forest. Okay, there may be a few 'no-necker' animal types in here, but they aren't climbing trees, hunting jungle chickens or eating ants, that I can tell anyway. There is another story here, but I don't want my membership revoked.
The last few years I have travelled widely. It wasn't through choice, it was through insanity. I grew to love rain forests. I have stayed in many across the world. I have traveled in dugouts along tree-draped rivers, watched pink dolphins, stayed with crocodile men, swum with pirañas, sat with shaman, and caught tarantulas. I knew I had to get back into a forest somewhere to top up the inspiration, but where? Such things are rare in Bristol and the last one in Costa Rica cost me $100 a night—I needed 6 weeks on a budget of around $15 a night!
Many emails flew out across the world. When Mark replied, "Come and stay in my lodge on the Dulce Gulf, close to Corcovado National Park for $20 a night," I could hardly believe my luck: I jumped at it.
I wrote this towards the end of my visit when the power cut off one night:
It is dark here. The iPad glow seems to be of a particular florescence that is attractive to bugs. I have sixteen walking over the screen as I type this. Yes, I counted them. Every so often one walks over the soft key that I'm about to press. It dies instantly. I contemptuously flick it away. I have no remorse. Its unseen, sixteen thousand relatives are crawling all over me: in my eyes, my ears, my drink and up my nose. I feel like the queen waving at her unruly subjects with an undignified, somewhat demented demeanour.
It is life's little ambiguities that make this place all the more memorable. Everything here is dilapidated. The timbers constructing my shack (lodge seems a little grandiose) constantly rain termite poo onto my head, food, drinks, and clothing. The fridge freezes everything in it. The electric shower heater (yes, we have luke warm water when brave enough to switch it on) shorts to the sink. Do not touch the sink with bare feet! Mark lives close by in an ex-slaughter house. It is over 100 years old. It is a derelict barn. Possibly condemned. I wouldn't put a cow in it. To be honest: a cow wouldn't go in it. He lent me his bicycle. It is a suicide trolley. The pedals come off mid-flight, I score my shins but it transports me across the small stream each day to get to the mini-supermarket.
At night the frogs emerge and jump onto my naked feet as I type. It makes me jump. The bats that brush the back of my neck when they drop from the rafters to try to get the resident moth, make me jump too. The falling debris from the trees dropping onto the tin roof, also makes me jump – quite a lot: I think I'm under attack from fierce howler monkeys, especially when it is 2 am. I forget that the electric shower also electrifies the steel sink so when brushing my teeth, it makes me jump. I also forget to put out the large resident moth which waits for me to go to bed before landing on my face. That too, makes me jump.
It is, though, a tropical rain forest. I am surrounded with large Blue Morphos butterflies, macaws, howlers, wading birds, vultures, toads, toucans, bats, insects and a resident Black and White Owl. Ignore the moth! A rooster fish is seen churning up the shallows near the mangroves and a huge pod of leaping Spotted Dolphins seen further out. The afternoon thunderstorms are spectacular. The local Ticos are friendly. One lent me a kayak. I rigged a rod to its rear and trolled from it. I caught needle fish, mackerel and tuna. Each day I would take one back for supper.
I have found my inspiration. The blank page, though, doesn't stop. It is subdued but it still arrives, despite all that organic influence. There is nothing more I can do, so I sit with the lights off and my bare feet on the ground. The frogs like that. I allow a calmness to settle around and imagine roots growing from my feet to ground me to Mother Earth. I tap into the energy of the universe and ask for their guiding wisdom. Yes, I know all this sounds like a Walt Disney production with a bulging-eyed marmoset gawking out to space, but if that's what needs doing, then I do it. Now I have this sneaking suspicion that you think I'm a raving oddball to be condemned to the outer fringes of society and quietly erased from the invite list to any more ALLi meetings. Once, I would have agreed with that sentiment, but back in those bygone days I wasn't staring at blank pages. All I can tell you is the truth and that is how it works for me. There are times when I have no idea where the story line is going—it is scary, but I have to trust. The spirits guide and the universe delivers. The frogs jump and you keep your mouth shut while sleeping.
So, tell all, if there's anybody left! How do you overcome your blank page moments?
To try and remedy the volcanic emotions that suddenly erupted, he took off around the world for 5 months. It saved him. Surprisingly, he discovered a love for rain forests and marine wild-life.
His first book was rubbish and was never published. The second: The Elements, published in 2015, recites life in a rain forest as seen from the animals, plants and the elements.
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