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On Writer's Block

I came to the office of the theater company many of us affectionately call NEC, also known as New York's famed Negro Ensemble Company, with the plan of starting and finishing the first draft of a short for a woman's entertainment group that I'm a part of. I was given an assignment to complete a first draft of a short on an assigned genre and, in typical Mahlet fashion, decided to wait until two days before it's expected to begin. To my own defense, I did craft 1/2 of a pretty nifty story idea while waiting to see my client at Rikers Island (you see, I'm also a client advocate at a criminal defender org in Harlem-- more on that later). So here I am at NEC with the whole office to myself, a big, fast computer and comfy chair, and my little pink notebook where I scribble all my on-the-go musings, inspiration, and advice. 

It's now 7:09. I've been here since around 4 and have successfully completed all of the following tasks:

1. Wrote out a list of things in my life that I remember that ever hurt me/made me feel pain in an attempt to access my emotional memory (one of my current struggles in acting)
2. Ordered an Italian Hoagie from Shorty's and had it delivered 
3. Updated my personal blog and spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at Drake and The Weeknd's blogs 
4. Checked my email, facebook, twitter, and tumblr about 10x each
5. Added more books to my cart on Amazon, including "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office" by Louis B. Frankel 
6. Started writing my first DAP blogpost

You see, I haven't even opened my pink notebook where I scribbled my short idea. And instead, recognizing the all-too-familiar feeling I was having, began to google "writer's block" and books like The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. I don't know the exact definition of writer's block, but I do think it necessitates one actually attempting to write something and then coming to a crossroads. What's my excuse? I find in myself more of a fear of writing, and of course, that comes from a fear of being mediocre. 

I read in one of Syd Fields' books (are you noticing a trend of reading about writing instead of writing? Me too.) that in order to be a great writer, you have to get used to a lot of bad writing. Sure, easy enough. But my brain was shot. Frozen, really, and no matter how much I tried to force myself to think character, plot, conflict, resolution, all I could think was how much I'd rather be at home (safe!) watching TV. 

So I took a break, and wrote a poem. I used to write poetry all the time in junior high and high school (yes, I was one of those girls with a diary of angst-ridden and woe-is-me poetryabout unrequited love and wanting to be famous) but abandoned it for the most part in college. I remember going to spoken word events and watching my amazing friends stand up in front of a room full of people and shouting their feelings on politics and race and love and sex and mischief and being quietly jealous that they were so forthright, so BOLD, so in-your-face. MY poetry, of course, was much too private, much too wicked and wild and different from who I was that I couldn't dare to speak it aloud! 

But I wrote anyway; a spoken word piece that had the cadence of the hipness in me. It had the fire of the anger in me and the wit of the vixen in me. I wrote and the words spilled over with ease and I laughed and wrote and thought and wrote. I wrote of unrequited love. I wrote of wanting to be famous. I wrote with angst and woes and boldness and wrote until my knuckles ached. Then I sat back and let the excitement take me over. 

My lesson learned? Allow (demand!) myself to be wholly creative. To write poetry, write fiction, write screenplays, act, paint, sing, soar! To open the floodgates without regard to with what medium my art is expressed. To trust that I'll navigate to what's most beautiful, most brilliant in me. 

And my poem? Well, it's much too wicked... 

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