Paranoia, Obsessive Ego and Writer’s Block

The thing that always challenges (and often stops) us, the artist or the writer, from creating is almost always the same: the nasty little voices in our heads. All of us could probably be competent artists if it weren’t for those. They tell us that if we write anything even faintly autobiographical, those we knew will sue us. Or expose us. Or something. They tell us other people’s work is always going to be better, so we should study that.

Our obsessive egos (and our idiotic inner monologues) dominate our lives, even, to a lesser extent, if we become aware of them through meditation. Mr. Lopate ridicules our condition — but will the cellphone generation ever free themselves of these shackles? Somehow, I doubt it: the addiction is too strong.

Anne Lamott (in Bird by Bird) addresses this universal problem by quoting a hilarious poem by Phillip Lopate:

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as 
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.

(Excerpt from We Who Are Your Closest Friends, 1972).

About Nancy

Nancy Hoffmann began studying Zen Buddhism in 1992 and has dedicated this site to meditating on what she sees and believes. She is not averse to sharing laughter as well.
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