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A Writer's Confessional - An Exercise to Exorcise Writer's Block

Updated on February 4, 2015
The Library
The Library | Source
The long walk into the library
The long walk into the library | Source

The decrepit old clunker of a car moves down the darkened street with the driver seated behind the wheel, worry etched upon his stark features. No other vehicles are moving on this snowy night; he is utterly alone and the only lights in evidence are the infrequent streetlights, posted sporadically along the street, beacons in the night which seem to beckon him onward, ever onward. The light snowfall drifts through the circles of light emanating from the streetlights, creating a halo of yellow and white in the blackness.

Relentless in his fear and need, the driver continues forward, intent on reaching his goal regardless of the weather.

After what seems like hours but is in reality only a fraction thereof, he arrives at his destination. He directs his car up to a large building surrounded by acres of asphalt. Parking in the designated location, he exits the car and secures the doors before turning and looking at the edifice. Craning his neck back, he looks up at it, all five stories of marble and granite built in a Neo-Roman style meant to awe and impress the local residents. Swallowing against the lump in his throat, he begins to climb the stairs leading up to the entrance.

He reaches the door and pulls it open and enters. Walking through the doorway he sees a brilliantly lit hallway with seating for several hundred. Small alcoves line the walls on either side of him as he eases along the central pathway, moving towards the desk at the end of the room. There an intelligent looking woman waits in what appears to be a uniform of sorts. Arriving at her station, he stumbles for a bit on what to say. Finally, he simply mutters "Excuse me Ma'am.".

For an extended moment, he thought she had not heard him. Finally, she raises her head and looks directly into his eyes and asks "Yes?".

Gulping audibly, he asks his question. She looks at him for what felt like eternity before indicating with her aquiline nose the direction he was to travel. Bobbing his head in thanks, he turns and walks towards a pair of small doorways along one wall. The doorway on the right is made of a darkly stained wood and carved with exotic letters and symbols. The other doorway is covered with a heavy dark green fabric trimmed in gold thread. He pulls aside the fabric and enters, allowing the covering to fall back into place behind him. In the faint light within he can see a small wooden chair facing him. Turning, he settles uncomfortably into its carven seat, folding his hands on his lap and waits.

He does not have long to wait.

The Writer's Confessional Booth
The Writer's Confessional Booth | Source

"May I help you?" the voice asks from the other side of the small window which was barred with a lattice work screen in the wall separating the two rooms. It was a gentle voice, one full of wisdom but still his insides shook at the sound.

Finally, he spoke. "Forgive me, Librarian for I have sinned. I have sinned against the craft of writing. It has been fourteen days since I last created words, fourteen days since I have had an original thought worthy of placing upon paper. I fear I have Writer's Block!" With this declaration then man bows his head and sobs uncontrollably, his face hidden in his hands.

After a few seconds, the voice from the other side of the partition speaks again. "Tell me, scribe; tell me of your struggles."

Swallowing hard against the enormous lump which had settled firmly in his throat, he begins to speak. "Oh noble Librarian, keeper of the works of knowledge handed down since time immemorial, I have sinned a great sin. I have not been able to create words worthy of the page. I search for ideas, thoughts, or directions which would lead me to completion of my works, and subsequent publication but I stall, my mind a blank. I have Writer's Block!" The man bursts into full-fledged sobs as he utters what is perhaps the greatest sin a writer can have. He hangs his head in shame, tears falling onto the lush carpet within the small room.

On the other side of the partition, the Librarian nods his head knowingly, a small smile playing about his lips. After a moment of heart-rending sobs, the man raises his head and listens to the words of wisdom the Librarian hands down to him.

"Son, my son, think ye thou art the first to hath fallen upon fallow ground with thine words? But really, do you think you are the first to have this illness; this curse? No, you are in good company to be sure. Why even I have been struck mute, wordless, unable to put pen to paper in what I consider to be the creation of worthy works for others to read and heed."

Drawing a shuddering breath, the man raised his head, hope evident in his dark eyes. "Really, Librarian? Others have had this, this malady? Oh please say it is so! How can I work without words? How can I create without ideas? How am I to write without direction?"

The man wrung his hands in misery even as hope began to creep into his soul. For the first time in two weeks, he felt he might have an original thought, yet it was so very tenuous, so faint as to be non-existent. Yet he felt it and with that it began to flare, to grow more distinct and sure. Closing his mouth and opening his ears and soul to the Master of Words, his entire being waits for the inspiration which was to follow.

Finally, the Librarian spoke. "You must understand, son; creating works of literature is never easy, and to create those works which are worthy are even more difficult. You cannot force the inspiration to be, you must seek it out by following where it might lead. Oftentimes where you think you are going is not where you will end up. The story must come to its own conclusion, in its own time. Characters must develop and find their own way in order to be real, to live. If they do not live for you, how can they live for your reader? Tease the words, caress them into being. Allow them to come to life on their own and force yourself to be only their recorder. Do you understand?"

Nodding his head even as he was unsure as to the true meaning hidden in the words, he hoped that understanding would come nonetheless. "Thank you Librarian. Thank you. Have you anything else to add which will assist me on my journey?"

The Librarian thought carefully before answering. "Yes, I have one more instruction. You are to write, to create, to record no less than 1,000 words every day without fail. It does not matter if you think they are worthy or not. Only that you follow through with this instruction. 1,000 words; not one word less. And as an added thought, you are to finish one story idea before beginning another. You are allowed to make notes on other ideas, but the words you use for these notes are not to be counted in your thousand word penance. Understood?"

Nodding furiously, the man agreed. "Yes sir! I understand! Thank you oh thank you!" With that, he pulls back the curtain and exits the small room, doing everything he can to hold his pace to a quick walk and not break into a run. As he passes the woman he nods to her in farewell. She simply holds his gaze as he left the building, a knowing look on her patrician features.

Billibuc, The Librarian
Billibuc, The Librarian | Source

A short time later, the doorway to the other room opens and a scholarly man steps out, blinking slightly in the brightness of the room. Raising his arms, he stretches and begins to make his way over to the area that the woman waits. As he reaches her location, she speaks.

"Tell me, do you really think you've helped him? Do you really think you help any of them? You know, not everyone can be a writer; some are nothing more than scribblers, dabbling in the written word. Few and far between are those who create something truly memorable."

The man known as The Librarian smiles as he speaks. "All who write contribute, whether they or we think they do or not. They are the small child standing alongside a pond, still and deep. They cast the stone into the waters and create a ripple. Who can say where these ripples will end up? Who is to say who sees and reads these ripples? Perhaps no one; perhaps someone. They may not create a memorable work in our eyes, but someone, sometime in the future may read them and be inspired to write, to create something which will become memorable. We are simply the keepers of the word, the impetus of thought for those lost souls who crave the opportunity to create something, anything. Do you remember your first inspiration? Was it a classic story, or a simple little nothing to most of humanity? I remember mine, and I am dedicated to helping others remember theirs even as they create that which could become someone's inspiration." He then looks to the doorway as if seeing beyond those great doors, seeing those in the world seated at their desks, striving to create their masterpiece.

With a knowing look back at him, she says "You are nothing but an old softie, aren't you Billibuc! I have to say that you are the greatest teacher of what it takes to be a writer I have ever seen!" She pauses, then adds "Thank you, Bill, for bringing me into this project. I do believe it will be the most fun I have had in a long time."

The Librarian, Bill, smiles in return as he says "You are most welcome, Mary of Tillson. You are as great a help to those who seek as I am." Turning to look at the enormous clock on the far wall, he adds "Well, it appears as though our shift is almost over. Who comes on next?"

Mary consults her always impeccable chart. Scanning the lines she says "Looks as though Pete of Weestro and Will Starr are manning the next shift with Rolly and Eiddwen on the one following. Then we come back and give it another go. Are you ready to call it a day, Bill?"

Bills smiles that gentle smile once more as he says "No, not really, but if I am going to do my own writing I suppose I should be heading home to Bev and the chickens. Take care Mary; see you tomorrow."

Mary watches him meander towards the exit, stopping now and again to gaze at the books lining the walls. He pauses to remove a book from the shelf, his hands caressing the binding before opening the book to read a line or two. To the outside world, he may seem unprepossessing, but to those who know and love him, he is a master craftsman, one bent on improving all who ask. Mary turns back to her work, smiling contentedly at the job she so enjoys.

Is billibuc The Librarian to you?

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I hope you enjoyed my little exercise to break my Writer's Block. I tried to think of those who have helped me at different times here on HubPages, and although I only referenced a few here, many are those who have assisted me. I salute all who have offered a tidbit of insight, a critique, and those who feel I have what it takes to be a writer.

I offer my sincere thanks to you and wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Blessings to you and yours.

Mike

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That's no fair, Mike. I can't vote in the poll. LOL

      Before I ever got to my name I thought my goodness, what a clever, well-written article....in fact, I was going to tell you it was the best writing from you by far....then you went and said nice things about me, so to tell you that would sound self-serving. :) What a dilemma. LOL

      Seriously, Mike, thank you so much. If I help others then my goal has been reached. Writing is such a blessing to me, and I just want everyone else to love it as much as I do.

      Happy Holidays to you and your family my friend, and again, thank you so much.

      bill

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 3 years ago from Missouri

      Go ahead and say nice things...you deserve them!

      I am glad you enjoyed this little exercise of mine. I have had The Block for a bit now and just needed to shake things up a bit to try to get back on track. I thought "What better way than to write about those who have helped me here!"

      As for clever and well written, best thing I have done - oh pshaw! It is easy to write about those who care and assist. All I have to do is follow the direction....

      Take care my dear friend. Say hello to Bev and the chickens. Oh and congratulations on your M's signing Cano. If they add a couple of more pieces this winter, who knows?!

      Be safe Sir. May God Bless.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Mike, this story is an awesome comeuppance from writer's block! You had me from the first sentence. I love the way you described the library and confessional. Obviously, you have experienced the Catholic Church. Then you twist the story bringing in Hubbers we all know all love. Brilliant move!

      And, yes. I consider Bill to be the Librarian.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 3 years ago from Missouri

      Funny, I have never been into a Catholic Church having been born and raised a Back Row Baptist! I just tried to imagine a really big Library and a confessional room inside it. I am glad I did a good job on describing it for my readers.

      Thank you Cheyenne. And you are one of the ones I spoke of at the end for you always have a good word to say. You are appreciated!

      Happy Holidays and Many Blessings to you and yours!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Mike, I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school from 3rd thru 8th grades. Our church was Roman Catholic and of grand structure. You described the confessional perfectly.

      My mom was raised a Back Row Baptist, too, but had to convert when she married a Catholic. The Catholic church has some hard-pressed rules back in those days. I don't know if they still do or not. I haven't stepped foot in a Catholic church since I grew up and became able to make my own choices.

      You are a fabulous writer. Don't ever doubt yourself!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This was both entertaining and filled with valuable knowledge that you gleaned from Billy. I smiled as I read this knowing full well...

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 3 years ago from Missouri

      Thanks, I needed that. I feel we all need that little push every now and again, don't you? You take care and many Blessings to you today.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very beautiful hub. I enjoyed it so much. You have done a great work. I am afraid to vote for billybuc as a librarian. He is something more than that for me. He can be a teacher and inspirer for (what he says) spread your wings and fly.

      Thanks for writing this funny and interesting hub.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Where oh where has this hub been hiding? We have all experienced writer's block but never written out of it so beautifully. I was so intrigued and genuinely marveled at the story. Yes, the Catholic Confessional is well depicted but the advice a bit more than usual.

      Then I came to Master Billybuc and thought, what a great tribute to our teacher and his teachings. As I read further and recognized myself I was floored!!! Intelligent looking you say ;)

      Writer's block or no, you are a master. Thank you so much for including me in this beautiful work of art.

      Voted all but funny and unashamedly shared.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you Sir! I am so glad you enjoyed this piece. Bill is so much more to so many, but I had to have someone for us to look up to! You take care, ok?

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Mary of Tillson I am glad you liked seeing yourself in print! And though you say I am a master, I must disagree. Those such as yourself, William and the others I mentioned are the Masters; I am but a lowly journeyman delving into that which I love, that which I attempt to do but may never fully comprehend the full depth of. And thank you for the share! I'll take all of those I can get (abashed or not!)!

    • StephSev108 profile image

      Stephanie Marie Severson 2 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thank you for an awesome article. I really needed to read this. I haven't written on Hubpages for a long time. I'm ready to set my creativity free. Thanks again.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      You are more than welcome! Write on!!

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