I’m pretty sure that anyone else who writes as frequently as I do, whether for business or for pleasure, will agree when I say that writer’s block absolutely sucks. It always seems to happen at the most inopportune times, like when you’re trying to start a 10-page paper at 2 a.m. that’s due in six hours or when you’re scrambling to submit your study abroad essays to get that coveted spot in the London program. Or, like me, if you’re trying to get your column done early so you can start enjoying the weekend as soon as possible and the words just don’t seem to flow as naturally as you’d like them to. It’s not that we run out of things to say or ideas to express, but rather that a kind of temporary wall is randomly built between our brains and our fingertips.
Writer’s block is the literary equivalent of a dry spell. Some people have been dating continuously since they popped out of a womb and some know nothing about dry spells because the expanse of their love lives are about as wet as the Sahara. Most of us, however, have had at least one – or many – off and on periods of relationships, of hook-ups and of confusing complicated interactions that we still aren’t sure how to classify. Just like writer’s block, there is really no rhyme or reason behind when or why a dry spell begins. It’s not because girls stop marinating in perfume or guys start wearing their sweatpants to the bar. Our mating habits stay the same, but somehow there’s a considerable lack of attention given to them. In fact, it seems like the harder you try to make a dry spell end, the longer it lasts.
My summer could pretty much be defined as a dating draught. When I moved out of the city back to the rolling Amish countryside of Lancaster County at the end of spring semester, I left behind not only the city life that I love so much but also a physically satisfying relationship. The guy and I lived about an hour and a half away from one another (eternity compared to the three blocks separating our dorms) and both had full summer schedules of work ahead of us. I knew I wouldn’t see him until Temple was back in session, and I was just fine with that. Besides, why would I want him to see me at my absolute worst, sweating the summer away in an un air-conditioned warehouse doing manual labor? Not cute.
As the months got hotter and the number of days left before school dwindled, I became more and more frustrated and realized it wasn’t really my freshman fling that I missed, it was having someone a phone call away to hook up with at whim. I ruled out relieving myself with anyone I worked with – bros from Kutztown and divorced middle-aged men aren’t exactly my type—and found myself lusting after random patrons at diners, making a very secret goal to make out with another person in attendance at my cousin’s wedding, desperate for some kind of convenient action.
Of course, once I got back to school and my efforts became even more concentrated (as in I actually tried talking to guys rather than staring creepily from afar), I failed even more miserably. Party after party, hundreds of strangers, and I came away with nary a phone number. I was armed with new tank tops and a much higher alcohol tolerance and got nothing for my efforts? Was it the five inches of hair that were chopped off by an amateur hairstylist? Did my new mascara make me look like I had tarantula eyes? Everything about me was still inherently the same, but for some reason Venus just wasn’t about to help me out.
As suddenly as my summer dry spell had set in one day, it unexpectedly ended one night. I was utterly exhausted after spending two hours in class and five hours wandering Center City, and was looking forward to a relaxing evening sitting on a friend’s couch in a T-shirt – I had no idea that the one time I tried the least would also be the night I had the most success. So, I thought, why try so hard to look awkwardly nice for nothing when being myself comes so naturally and ends up benefiting me in the end?
Dry spells suck, yes, but when all is said and done there’s really nothing we can do about shortening them except to stop thinking about it. Like a break in writer’s block, the rains will only come during a draught after you stop spending so much time analyzing why they haven’t arrived yet. Not only will you appear less desperate for some ass than you really are, but you’ll also have more time to focus on your schoolwork (yeah, right), your friends, and maybe thinking about using the oven in your kitchen to make something fancier than ramen noodles. That being said, here’s to a very rainy fall for us all.
Libby Peck can be reached at email@example.com.