It was two o’clock in the morning, my eyes were burning, and my computer battery threatened me with red color menacingly. I hadn’t added words to my document for at least an hour, instead resigning myself to a motionless stasis. The cluster of words I had typed earlier still sat at the top of the document, the line marking my position blinked at me, begging for a continuation. Nothing would come to mind. This was my “picnic-table crisis”. An episode of writer’s block so intense it left me nearly catatonic. Similar to McPhee in his article, an order escaped me. Any organization of the thoughts in my head had dipped from the situation completely, leaving me blank and confused. Like McPhee, the type of assignment I was struggling with was a narrative assignment, but based on my own life experiences rather than those of an other. Every year in my high school we would receive the same assignment for our first essay.
“Write a memoir, and tell me about you!” the teacher would exclaim, as if we all haven’t done the same thing, with the same dumb story every year. My classmates would roll their eyes and start opening their Google Docs with their memoirs from middle school that they would just turn in again. This year though, I had deigned to write a whole new one. An intensely personal memoir that the spark of rebellion in me had prayed would unnerve and confuse the teacher. Unfortunately, when I had finally sat to write it, I didn’t know how to put the story onto paper. Again, similarly to McPhee’s struggle with the Brower story later in the article, if I had put the events of my story in perfect chronological order not only would the meaning be lost, the story would end up far too long.
This is a common struggle for me in my writing. Not only keeping my thoughts in an order where they keep the emotion I intend, but also keeping them concise. Often, even with academic essays, I tend to ramble and lose my train of thought, so organizing with flashcards like McPhee might actually really help me to keep our upcoming paper clearer. I may need to write them out and try several organizations, throwing thoughts away or replacing others to get a paper that actually makes sense.