Writer’s Block

By Alejandro Escamilla

Every day that goes by, I watch more and more posts being published by the blogs that I follow or that come across the feed on “Freshly Pressed.” Every day I wish I was putting something new out there too. It isn’t that I don’t have any ideas, that’s not the kind of writer’s block I am talking about. I am talking about the writer’s block that keeps me from actually being able to sit down and WRITE. You know, things like a job (in my case two), kids and family, house and yard, sleep, commute time, time to unwind from all those other things…the list seems endless.

One of the difficulties I have found about blogging is that the things I like to write about and the way I like to write take time. I like to talk about “real things” and not just put stuff out there because it will generate a few clicks here and there. I want stuff of substance! But, what I am finding is that in order to do that I like to have blocks of time to be able to focus on it. I like to include research or references to support what I am saying (is that the teacher in me or just good practice?). I like to write with the flow at the moment, not just in bits and pieces since the cohesiveness in thought tends to be lost somewhere along the way. I keep ideas in my “queue”, if you will, but then when I go back to them I am not sure what my thoughts were at the time or feel like I have lost the intention of the idea.

Am I taking this blogging thing too seriously? Do I care too much about what I write and how I write it?

How do other’s handle this sort of writer’s block and still feel like they are producing something worth reading? How have YOU addressed this issue?

If I Could Turn Back Time

One of the “Daily Prompt” topics caught my interest this week. “If I could turn back time…” has been on my mind a lot lately. It has been on my mind because I (or we, because it involves more than just me) have been locked in a court battle with my ex-wife over my daughter. It has been going on for 10 months now and, as you can imagine, every day that passes is agonizing. Each day that passes is like another weight added to my shoulders. I did not start this court battle because I was being difficult or vengeful, but because my daughter REQUESTED it.

Last Spring her mother got engaged and my daughter didn’t seem very excited. Well, she was excited because it was something new for her mom but she wasn’t excited in the sense that children get excited about something. Right after school lets out my daughter is with us full time for two months over the summer. At the beginning of summer, she very explicitly said that she did not want to  move with her mom because she would be leaving the only school she had ever known, a large extended family that she was highly connected with, and many friends that she was finally starting to enjoy. Needless to say, this request seemed daunting since the courts here in Washington are not friendly to fathers, but I knew I had to fight this time. I knew I had to fight for her, something I failed to do when she was young. That is where the thoughts of turning back time came back from.

The following is an excerpt from something I wrote during the healing process as I was trying to deal with the loss of a marriage, the loss of a family, and the loss of my child. I only share this portion of the writing because this is really the only part of the past that I wish I could go back and change.

I remember that day like it was yesterday . . . Her eyes are brown, her hair is red and curly.  She has a smile that lights my day and a laugh that makes my heart dance.  I had to chase her around the dining room table that day.  I was leaving for school that morning and she was not going to be home when work no longer kept me away.  She was leaving with her mom later in the day, but, innocently, she did not know it.  She was just playing the game we played every morning before I left for school.

This day had been coming for a couple of weeks and I knew, eventually, I would have to suffer through it then, and for the rest of my life.  As I put on my jacket, I could hardly hold back the tears.  How do you say goodbye to someone who does not understand?  Each time I looked at her my heart was breaking, being torn to shreds, and I could not avoid it any longer.

“I’m leaving for school.  Can I have a hug and a kiss?” I asked as I knelt by the door. She looked at me out of the corner of her eye, ever so slyly, smiled, and said, “No!”

Then she bolted for the next room as fast as her little legs could carry her.  Her little feet CLOMP, CLOMP, CLOMPING across the floor.  She giggled as she ran, just like every other morning, but this morning the “No” felt like a dagger.  It stung.  She does not know this; of course, she is only a year and a half old.  I chased her into the next room, heart crumbling with every step, forcing a smile to my face.  When I caught her, I held her in my arms and, finally, she threw her arms around my neck, puckering up for a kiss – just like every other morning.  This morning was not like the others though.  This morning was the morning that meant I would only see her occasionally, every other weekend.  This morning was, “Goodbye.”  Of course, she does not understand goodbye yet.  To her, goodbye means closing the bedroom door and then dashing back in seconds later.  Thankfully, she does not understand just yet.  She did not know then that there would be weeks between seeing her daddy.  She was too young to understand that then, but she will . . .

I remember those days like they were yesterday . . .

Now, nearly eight years after the day described above, I regret that day. I didn’t fight for her then and I thought what I was doing at the time was best for her. How little I knew. I have watched a little girl slowly lose her childhood as her mother makes her into a “little adult” at the age of 10. I have tried to keep her balanced during her time with me, but honestly it is hard to fight an influence that is so pervasive.

Now, it has been 10 months of agony and there doesn’t seem to be an answer in sight as to what the court may decide. I want to rescue my little girl. I want to rescue my daughter. I want to turn back time and make it right so that we wouldn’t be here, doing this fight, now.

IF only, if only I could turn back time.

Prisoner of Time

I don’t have time to read this, but I’m gonna anyway!

Time.  Too much or too little.  There is never enough time to do the things we need to do and never enough time to do the things we want to do.  “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Yet, when we have, or seemingly have, nothing to do there is too much time and time does not pass quickly enough.  Perhaps this is where the saying, “Time on my hands,” came from?

Whether we know it or not, we are all prisoners of time.  Everything we do is measured in small or large amounts of time.  Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, centuries, or millennia.  Everything is measured by these or varying increments of these.

It used to be that people measured their time by the sun.  It was usually sun up and sun down.  ALL the important stuff had to be done somewhere in between.  Hunt, plant, clean, gather – as long as there was light, it was still possible.  As the years passed away, the time from sun up to sun down varied, but always the work was done.  Once darkness came, there was nothing left to do because you could not see it.

Eventually someone figured out that fire was possible and, under control, could be used to do more things after it was dark.  That is when we really started to become prisoners.  More light means more work, and it never ends.

Now a calendar, the timepiece for a year, tracks our daily schedule.  “I’ll be there on Tuesday”, “Your visit last month”, “I’ll see you next year,” are all statements we hear often.  Seasons are tracked, appointments scheduled, deadlines met or missed, a calendar is meant to manage our time on a grand and larger scale, but are we better off or do we just schedule ourselves to death?

Soon, a calendar was not enough.  We filled our schedules with so much to do; we needed a better way to manage even more activities.  The day, 24 hours longs, needed to be broken into smaller increments.  Thus, a timepiece known as a clock came to be.  Now the possibility of telling time no longer relied on the sun and shadows.  Wandering into an open space or leaving a building was not necessary.  Simply look at a face on the wall and the hands tell of time past or time left.  Inevitably, entering a building took too much time and was inconvenient and so someone developed a way to carry time with you.  Now time was carried on your wrist or in your pocket.

Because time was not portable, people began to break days down into smaller increments still.  Hours were broken into quarters or halves and still further into individual minutes.  Minutes into seconds.  A face, hands, and 12 numbers dominate time, to this day.  The form of clock may vary, but the function is the same.  “I’ll be there in 15 minutes,” is transmitted from place to place.  “You’re five minutes late,” is heard at meetings and appointments, or in you home.  “You have three minutes to finish . . .,” whatever it is you are doing at the time.  The smaller amount of the time something takes, the more things we can cram into our lives.  Schedules are made to be kept.

We have become such prisoners of time that we now are impatient when things take too long.  It used to take hours to prepare a meal, but now it can be done in minutes.  The stove was a time saver from the campfire and, eventually, building a fire was not necessary at all.  Electricity was a time saver, but not fast enough.  Microwaves have saved even more time.  Now we have foods like “instant” potatoes and pre-made meals.  “Microwave on high for 1 – 3 minutes . . .,” the package reads.  Yet, when our food is not ready when we want it, we complain.  When we have to put it back into the microwave, we wail!  “Minute Rice” takes three and “instant potatoes” require some assembly.  Complaints galore are heard when “fast food” is not fast, yet the time it takes to assemble a meal of similar size and quantity at home would take much longer than the time you had to wait.  A poached egg takes 30 seconds, yet we complain that it is too fast because we cannot get the rest of our breakfast ready before it is done.  What gives?

Other inventions have not helped either.  The automobile was a breakthrough because people could get from here to there more quickly.  Ironically, when we all try to get from here to there more quickly, it ends up taking longer because we are stuck on the highway.  As it turns out, walking may actually be faster at times.  Of course, sitting in traffic is a result of someone trying to make better use of “wait time” in traffic.  Cell phones we created to save time by not connecting us to something stationary, like a wall.  The same with laptop computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs), they save time, but by saving time, we can do more work.  If we can do more work now, we have more time to what we want to do later.  Which is precisely the reason we end up sitting in traffic – the person ahead of us was trying to save time by unsuccessfully multi-tasking.  As it turns out, driving and saving time by working causes others to wait.

At night when we cannot sleep, we stare at the clock.  Thoughts such as, “If I fall asleep right now, I’ll get six hours of sleep,” race through our heads.  We know we need to sleep, but because we are trying so intently to do it, we cannot.  After what seems like an eternity of tossing and turning, we look at the clock again only to discover 15 minutes have passed and we are not asleep yet.  Then the routine starts all over again, “If I fall asleep right now, I’ll get . . .

Some of you might find you are such a prisoner of time that when you go to a movie you cannot really enjoy it.  The problem is that you have to know what time it is.  You know what the length of the movie, approximately, is and yet you find yourself looking at your watch or cell phone constantly.  “How much time has passed?” you wonder.  “If an hour has passed, there must be x amount of time left.”  What does it matter?  It does not; we are just prisoners to it.

Time controls everything we do.  When to get up or go to bed, where to be and when, schedules, deadlines, – all have a control over us that is not easily altered.  Time is our prison and there is no escape, only a beginning and an end.