I am sitting in a café in Nashville eating a pepper jack pimento cheese sandwich and a kale salad, and I have writer’s block. This isn’t an uncommon experience for me, although it usually comes when I’m writing songs. I have a general fear in life of being “stuck” somewhere, so writer’s block can be a particularly oppressive feeling for me. Some people believe artists spend their days in inspired bliss, creative muses oozing from their pores. The life of an artist is much less romantic.
“Just write.” It’s ethereal advice that’s fuzzy around the edges and raises eyebrows of many an aspiring writer, but it’s solid advice. You just gotta buckle down and do it. So I give you my attempt at breaking my writer’s block: I am going to just write. No self-editing, no censoring. Just gonna write. So here I give you: the foray into crazy artist mode.
Your boots are worn like mine. Same color, mustang brown. Why did you leave so suddenly? Waiting for something, someone who never appeared? Brown eyes that couldn’t share a lunch, couldn’t share another conversation. Or maybe the music was wrong. It’s lilting and sad above the lunch commotion, minor sevenths and major sixths that grace the ears like a little bit of rust and stardust.
There is so much plaid in the room, you might as well cover the floor in flannel. You can tell who’s headed to a gig because they’re dressed in all black. There is a tiny baby in the arms of a very large man. He is safe in a way that he will never know, in a way none of us can remember. In a way we were once, never again.
The guy over in the corner pulls on his earlobe because he is deep in thought, or maybe bored. Not here. Probably somewhere sunny, because it’s never sunny in Nashville anymore, except for fits and spurts that do less to soothe and more to tease.
On the other side of the counter there are beards and long long days. I know the feeling of not getting a lunch break, not getting any kind of break, it’s the kind of day that breaks you. You might hear a million other pieces of other people’s days, and you get so hungry you start asking them what they had for lunch. I’m not on that side of the counter today.
Over there, you are still pulling on your earlobe. The girl next to you, forehead crunched and hands waving in frenzy, thinks she’s getting her point across. There is lots of gray today, in sweaters and in half-smiles, probably the weather’s fault. I know there’s a rain dance, but what about a dance for the sun?
Hugs are more tender in January. After the brokenhearted casualties of December, it is the month to be a little better, quieter, less drunk human beings. We collectively resolve to turn our lives around, our loves around, our lies around. In February we forget, but January is tender with humanity.