Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

Shot Of The Day

Word Clog

So I have an awkward admission. A strange secret. A dark corner that needs the healing that comes with the light of confession, followed perhaps by some type of penance?

You see, I have a clog. A back up. A drainage problem. Not with waste water, but with words. A word clog. I have an entomological plumbing emergency. Help! I need a plunger or the chemical equivalent to Secret Plumber or a paid professional with one of those snaking devices that pushes massive amounts of back up through the drain so it can function as intended — deposit, flush, drain, repeat. Forgive the crude analogy, but it is so incredibly apt here.

Writer’s block? You’re thinking writer’s block now, aren’t you? Wrong! I’d take writer’s block over word clog 10 out of 10 times. That’s an entirely different animal. No, with writer’s block, there are no words. Or there are words but they are holed up in some temporarily inaccessable department of the brain. Held hostage by some invisible word-hog munching on the creativity neurons firing away in the grey. Some fairly predictable cures put the word-hog to sleep for extended swaths of time – rest, a phenomenal meal, changed circumstances, revelation or just the plain ole passage of time. Writer’s block resolves. Clog festers.

Clog is a far more complicated beast. First, because clog seems to be a progressive disease. Once an infection starts, it seems to move from slow drainage, to back up, to overflow quite rapidly. If not treated in a timely manner, clog turns to all out impaction. When clog is permitted to progress to this advanced stage, intervention seems to be the only cure. Second, unlike block, words are conspicuously present in the midst of clog. Gushing. Indeed, they appear incessantly. In dreams and internal conversations. In the middle of breakfast and during your husband’s analysis of your son’s college choices. Whole chapters are written during drives in the car, after hearing song lyrics or seeing bad movies. There isn’t a list long enough to describe the circumstances that unleash words in the clogged one. The smell of diesel fumes from a bus. A little girl crying because her sushi roll fell apart. Snarky sayings on the wrapper of your Halls Cough Drop. The sound of your mother’s voice on the answering machine. All triggers for a story line, an essay or a whole book idea. If this sounds like you, you may have Type I Clog.

For those with Type I, words gush but rarely land on a hard surface. These words are prize winning in the mind of the ‘writer’ but don’t seem to make it to the keyboard, the page or the dictaphone. They are written in the heart and the mind of the Clogger. Oh, Type I sufferers have lots of napkins, note pads and journal entries. They may even have files on a computer with titles and a few paragraphs. But actual finished pieces? Not so much. For them, the clog appears before the words hit the pen. I’m no Doctor of Clogography, but in my own holistic treatment and apparent healing from Type I Clog, the treatment and cure were fairly straight forward. Write. Don’t worry about perfection. Make it messy on the page. But write and write and write until something resolves. Something will if you don’t abandon the task. Write beyond the nut of the idea until the hard shell on the seed of the inspiration cracks and the life inside starts to grow. Write! Sit in front of the raw thought long enough for it to germinate in the soil of the gift God planted inside you. Write.

And pray. Every good thing comes from the Lord. If He’s inspired a writer in you, ask Him to lead you from inspiration to resolution. God doesn’t inspire to tease or torture. He has a purpose for everything He does, including stirring you. Ask him to burst the cover off the idea and then run as fast as you can to keep up with Him. He’s going somewhere with it. When that flash comes, write. When you wake up in the middle of the night unable to shake a message, write. When you’re composing in your head, pick up a pen. Ideas resolve when you write. Or they lead you to discover the unresolved places that take you back into life so that God can show you the links to where He wants to meet you. When you find yourself there, go out and write about the unresolved place. Ask questions on the page. And ask for answers! Demand them. But don’t ignore the sweet places where answers lie gloriously hidden in the open. Go out and find them. Pray that the eyes of your heart will be open so the pen of your gifted hand will move. Most Type 1 sufferers hate this advice. I know I did. And I’ll be swallowing the pill of the cure for the rest of my writing life. Like insulin for the diabetic. Or at least as long as I want to stay ahead of the disease. I’m sure there’s more to it, but this prescription seems to work… for Type I that is.

Writing isn’t the problem with the Type Twoers. They write. Their words know the page, the screen and the glow of the red record light on the Dictaphone. The words have not only been inspired, delivered, massaged, cared for, and released, they have been edited, revisited, tweaked, reordered, and read again and again for pace, rhythm and voice. They have known the intensity of progressive labor, pains coming closer and closer together until they stack and transition leaves them screaming — “What the hell was I thinking? Get this thing out of me. Once this is over, I’m never doing this again.” And then, in the middle of the hardest push of the process, when it hardly seems worth the amount of toil, a baby appears. It may be the ugliest thing in the world to most of the reading population, but this baby needed to be born from this mother who knows without a shadow of a doubt that her conception was immaculate. The seed of that idea was visited upon her and planted without her prior permission. With or without her cooperation, it was going to grow from the size of a lasure pea to the dimension of an award winning watermelon and then it was going to cause discomfort until that mother labored to bring her into the world. To her, the baby is magnificent because she knows that it could not have used another second in the womb of creation. It may have 9 fingers and 11 toes, but it is done! At least until it’s time for the second birth. The one where it gets released into the world of readers. And therein lies the clog.

The Type II Clogger can’t let the baby go because… ? Well, that’s the question isn’t it? I’ve barely regulated my medication for Type I, so delving here is merely an infantile stab at an arm chair diagnosis. We… there I said it… My name is Kat Silverglate and I have Type II Clog. Breathe. Pause. Ok… Ahemmm. As I was saying, WE don’t release our babies because of fear. But fear of what? I’m sure there are many forms. Fear that you’ll gawk at the 9 fingers or 11 toes and focus on that. The imperfection. But intuitively we know that nothing is perfect. The perfection lies in the Maker and He is perfecting us as we exercise the gifts He gave us. Perhaps it’s fear that you’ll judge us. ”Who does she think she is?” Or you’ll look at the baby like it’s damaged. Or worse, you won’t get it at all. This thing dying to come out.

Type II sufferers need people to understand that something is begin born in a writer when she labors over words. Sometimes we are sorting. Grasping to put clarity to things that are foggy before being laid out on a page. Much like a builder who lays out materials before bringing order to the structure that will emerge or a painter who splashes and mixes paint until it brings order to the beauty he feels inside but can’t express any other way. Or a million other forms of expression that are bursting to escape the prison of our flesh. Something will die in a writer if she leaves clog untreated. And something will delay in the world because God makes people — some people — lots of people — to find truth through combining words, to seek Him through words, to glorify the Creator by the release of the words sleeping in the created.

Yes, I know. I can hear the voice of the skeptics now. Words aren’t always used for good and some words cause more harm than good. That’s so true. But you know what I’m coming to know in this journey with words? God can handle it. God can handle our imperfection and our lost places and our messy questions and our nearly theres and our innocent errors and our skewed views. He can handle the sorting that humans do when they seek and long and reach for truth. God can handle it. And we will all stand before our Maker one day accountable for our words. He will be our judge. Not the guy gawking at your 9 toed, 11 fingered baby. The God of the universe from whom all good things come will judge our words and He will be looking way beyond them to our HEARTS! Man judges the literal word but GOD? He judges the heart! Part of me finds real comfort in that and part of me gets, well — all clogged up over it. I want to have a pure heart in the pursuit of words AND be right all the time, but I can’t be. I’m growing up, just like you and you and you. God can handle our growth! What He frowns on is our paralysis, fear and lack of trust that He gave us something so that we would use it for His glory. God can handle it.

I don’t know the cure for the dreaded clog, but some of the caked up stuff is starting to loosen up and break free. Like the epiphany that some word babies are meant only for the mother. They were delivered to help her grow. Maybe one day they’ll be ready to go out into the big bad world, and maybe they won’t. But they needed to be written by mom and for mom. Those words aren’t clogged or diseased. They have been delivered and they are at home for good. But others. There are others that become diseased because mama just can’t seem to let them go.

So, ending where I began. I think I’ve got my penance. Or at least part of the treatment for Type II Clog. Flush and flush again and flush some more. Words gotta fly. So here we go.

Swish.

Whirl.

Woosh.

Flow.

Fly little wordies.

Go go go.

Copyright 2013 Kat Silverglate

Posted: 9 May 2013