WRITER’S BLOCK!

It was the late 1980s. Film-makers Joel and Ethan Coen were in the midst of writing the ingenious gangster movie Millers Crossing when they got stuck. For one of the only times in their prolific career they had that most feared affliction, Writer’s Block (or Writers’ Block – there are two of them – Punctuation Ed.). Unable to figure a way to complete the flick, they hit upon an innovative solution. Putting the existing script aside for now, they instead began penning the story of a writer who indeed suffers from Writer’s Block – depicting his quandary as a kind of purgatory lived out in a festering 1940s hotel representative of his state of mind. The result of this approach? Instead of one critically acclaimed film, the Coens ended up with two. Barton Fink – the eponymous tale of the struggling scriptwriter – won the 1991 Palme D’Or at Cannes and was nominated for three Oscars, whilst the completed Millers Crossing is regarded as a genre classic still.

The point of all this? Well I have Writer’s Block and, by waffling on about the fact, I am rather hoping to shift the blockage, Coen-style. Neither is it just my blog that is suffering from a lack of inspiration. I may even be suffering from the rather over-dramatic sounding affliction of ‘burn-out’. I have given my all in coping and assisting with my wife’s recent operation and rather gruelling aftermath (although she is out of hospital as of this weekend. Yay!). However, in doing so I seem to have rather drained my appetite for everything else. When not attending to her, informing others about it or maintaining the flat and cat in her absence, I seem to have been left something of a tired and hollow shell, rather prone to aimless inaction (not that I’ve had much time to pursue this noble (in)activity). My usual default setting is to have too many things I want to do. However, over the past two weeks I have had literally no appetite for reading, writing, running, listening, working, playing (anything from online chess to PS3 football!), movie/TV-watching or thinking. I feel like some part of me is hibernating.

Regarding my Christian walk, the effect of this is interesting. I have maintained quiet times, but more out of a sense of responsibility – a head-awareness that this is when I need God most and that it’s certainly when I most need daily prayer for my wife. However, just as when I struggled to listen to the sermon last Sunday, my heart feels like it’s otherwise engaged. And yet in this I see a development of sorts. I used to be very susceptible to the ‘ups and downs’ of the Christian life – a period such as this would have left me worrisome and guilty… and would probably have seen me seeking to justify sinful indulgence. Not so much now… I know God is unchanging. I know I am saved. I know I am loved by a Father who holds all situations in His hands. I know that none of this is dependent on my present emotions. I know His care and design through the love of our church which has sustained me so. Perhaps above all, I know the hand of God in the wonderfully Spirit-filled response of my wife in these early days of a difficult recovery.

Having made this up as I go along I’m not quite sure of a conclusion… I think it’s probably this: In a time of great spiritual blessing (in the build up to the operation) I wanted to write (two posts ago) and say I know God is good and sovereign. Now, in a time of some stress, tiredness and spiritual difficulty, I want again to say I KNOW God is good and sovereign. And quite how the Coen Brothers fit into that I’m not sure! I’m not sure this post is going to win any awards, but it has led to a certain lightening of my soul…

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