As a writer there are many frustrations. Chief among those would be the frustration of knowing what you want to write, but somehow not getting the words right. That would be the time when I write a paragraph or two, delete it and try all over. And over. And over. Ever saw Twix? That was one of the most confusing movies ever, but that scene where Val Kilmer sits all night and only types the first sentence is exactly how I feel at times. Well, except for the drinking part. I don’t end up drinking when I’m frustrated like that, I end up playing DotA 2. Gaming can really put a dent in one’s concentration.

Of course another frustration is when you can’t figure out what to write next. Sometimes, no matter how you try, about the only thing your characters can do is to go to bed: “And they slept happily ever after. The end.”

I suppose one could say that would be the perfect time to just relax, take a break, drink some tea and try again later. That doesn’t really work for me, though. I’m one of those people that end up going over and over my inability to write and end up in a puddle in the bed and Hubby bringing me more coffee than is legal. So instead I go out. Not ‘out’ as in clubbing or going to a bar or something. For a start, I live in a little hick-town. Secondly, clubbing isn’t really part of our culture; not beyond your university years, that is.

So I go into town. Just, go where there are shops and walk around. I don’t buy anything and I don’t do it to relax. I do it to get myself all worked up.

This sounds counter-productive, I know. But hear me out. I do this, for I usually end up getting angry at all the mistakes in signs. Mine isn’t an English-speaking country. In fact, we have 11 (yes, eleven) official languages, with English being the one we default to in public. But very few of us speak English as a first language. And it shows. You know what is one of the things almost nobody gets right? The concept of ‘lay-buy.’ Oh, they know how it works, but nobody seemed to have paid attention to what it is. I’ve seen it written as:

  • Lay-bye (this sounds almost kinky, and is the most common mistake)
  • Lay-bey (yup, I kid you not)
  • Lay-bay (probably where ships go to die)

And these are often signs printed for large companies! And of course the difference between ‘accept’ and ‘except.’ And that ‘these premises’ notice:

These premises is protected by 24hr CCTV security.

Urgh! Urgh! Aaaargh! We also have one that reads: These valuable property for hire. Didn’t anyone take the time to just check their work before painting it on a 2m high wall? And why do we have a security services company that proudly proclaims: Fire armed response!? Didn’t those guys ever watch The X-Files? Play DotA? The Last Airbender? I know what they’re trying to say, but it came out wrong.

The best sign I’ve ever seen, and got the writing-juices flowing, wasn’t even local. It was in the Netherlands and I used to cycle past it at least once a week. It read:

Live cooking.

Just that, nothing more. Live cooking. As opposed to what? Dead cooking? Does it mean the chef is alive? What do you call a dead cooking chef then? Zombie cooking? Or does it mean the food is alive? Is there a cow just standing around, waiting to have a steak cut out of its ass? Why would they do that to a cow? Or maybe stuff has gone bad and the food has started to grow green and blue fungus and it is alive and therefore you get ‘live cooking?’

See, right now I’m worked up. I have so many questions and opinions that I really need to write down that my fingers are flying and I feel inspired to re-write War and Peace. Okay, not really War and Peace. But it worked. I got my brain into third gear again and I’m ready to try again at writing. It might still come out wrong, but at least I have the motivation to try again, and sometimes that is all one can hope for when faced with writer’s frustration.


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