Clearly the contemplation of my juvenilia has discombobulated me. Since reading, then posting, the opening paragraph of “-En” on Sunday, I have found myself unable to write a word. With last year’s experiment of bashing out a thousand words a day, I thought I had proved, at least in my own case, that “writer’s block” was a convenient myth we tell ourselves so we can spend more time staring out of the window in blissful idleness. Yet it appears that such blocks do exist, even for me!
I think, however, that I have hit upon the nub of the problem. Contained in the text of “-En” is that resounding trio of sentences “Pole to pole. Hole to hole. Mole to mole.” Weirdly, these words haunt me. They make no sense, or at least no sense that I can ascertain some forty years after I wrote them. But I am strangely exercised by the thought that somewhere along the line I took a wrong turning, and it is sentences like these I ought to have been writing all these years. Coal to coal. Soul to soul. Bowl to bowl.
It occurs to me, of course, that had I stuck to my guns I may not have gained the readership I have, such as it is. There is only so far one can take the method, and one need not take it far at all before boring the reader into stupefaction. But is not a kind of hypnagogic stupefaction a worthy aim for a writer to cast over his readers? It might be, you know, it very well might be.
For guidance on the matter I turned, as ever, to Dobson, the twentieth century’s titanic out of print pamphleteer. In his pamphlet Stringing A Few Words Together To No Apparent Purpose (out of print), he has this to say:
Stringing a few words together to no apparent purpose, to the possible stupefaction of one’s readers, is a worthy aim. Blunt screw fleck. Calmative pin-cushion rosette. Smelly little penguins. See? It can work wonders. Now I am going to take a nap.
Now I am going to take a nap.