There wasn’t any doubt anymore. He knew it, she knew it and the fucking publishing house knew it.
It was every writer’s nightmare. The writer’s block.
Rama was looking at him with an odd mix of emotions, her dark brown eyes showed her disappointment, expectations, her struggle to sympathise with him, everything. Sometimes Rama was so transparent but this time, he wished she wouldn’t have been. He was already beating himself up about the matter and her eyes didn’t help, neither did the small sigh that escaped her. He huffed out a breath and looked away, around them, the café had its customers talking around them, the baristas calling out names for the orders. The couple sitting near them were still holding hands and looking at each other with love in their eyes.
He looked past the glass walls and saw that there was traffic now on the road. There was a loud cheer from one of the nearby tables, a group was celebrating something and here he was, disappointing everyone in his life.
“Not everyone. Don’t be so dramatic.” Rama muttered while shaking her head in exasperation.
He hadn’t realised he had spoken out loud. He grimaced and she patted his hand. Rama was not the most comforting person he knew but she tried, today, for him. After all, his two deadlines had come and passed and he still hadn’t produced anything. There was frustration, there was disappointment and there was a sense of uselessness that hadn’t been there for a long, long time now.
“I just don’t know what I am supposed to do now. I haven’t had a writer’s block for almost two years! I think I forgot how to deal with it. Should I…should I go somewhere and just be? Isn’t that what most people do when something like this happens? Or should I work on it, try to concentrate and not slack off?” His voice took on an almost desperate edge, he gripped his mug of coffee tightly. He was trying hard not to freak out but he probably was due for one.
Rama had taken her hand back and was now fiddling with her chocolate croissant, tearing little pieces of it. Her discomfort wasn’t visible anywhere else but in her hands. That croissant was not gonna last long, he thought critically. Still, he mentally shrugged, she could afford to destroy a croissant or two.
After a long moment of silence between them, she finally looked at him and spoke, “Listen. I tried to be patient, I know, I know how the process works. I also know that it’s not something you could pay to go away. I have dealt with this before, the only advice I can give you is…you need to change the way you are living right now. Not a complete change, of course but just enough change to get the juices flowing, you know?”
He nodded unconvincingly. That sounded a lot like what he had considered as slacking off. The thing was, before this, he had been so incredibly lucky. In the three years of writing, he hadn’t had a writer’s block. He had had the idea for the trilogy and everything had sort of ran smoothly from there. He had managed to churn out chapters after chapters with such frenzy. In fact, he remembers his mother asking him to take a break, to leave the flat once in a while and he had told her something he would never forget.
“I’ll leave the flat when I am done or when I am dead.”
He still remembers the words, the passion with which he had thrown them at her. She was his mother and knew him inside out so she had just declared him a drama queen and left his room, with the door clicking shut quietly, deliberately.
Coming back to the present, he whispered, “Maybe I do need to go somewhere. I haven’t really been alone for a while now, have I?”
He had been on book tours and for meetings, he hadn’t expected the trilogy to take off the way it had. He had never written a single book before the trilogy and he had thought that it would get some lukewarm response which would then make way for his one great hit. The way people had fawned over the trilogy and bought them back the shelves had staggered him, it wasn’t something he was used to. Yes, he had attended some writing classes but that wasn’t guarantee that he would have success.
Now, he was nationally known for his works, he had won three awards already and that giddiness had lasted a long time. People all over his social media had already started to ask him when was he releasing his next book, was he writing already? Could he give them a hint as to what it would be? All the pressure was sometimes too much and he felt unworthy of the praise heaped on him.
Rama’s voice made him look at the present again, she had managed to break the croissant into four parts now. “I think, you are right. Go somewhere, I don’t really care where, go somewhere and enjoy yourself. Don’t think about the book, don’t think about anything but the moment and then come back to it. Sneha did it and you know how her book is doing.”
His heart brightened a bit, yes, that was right. Sneha had done it, it was a period in every writer’s life and if she could do it like many others before then maybe he could too. There was a sliver of hope in his mind now, he nodded and then, questions bombarded his mind. Where would he go? Did he have a specific place where he found comfort? He didn’t know. He had pretty much been everywhere in India now. So, in a typical fashion, he turned to Rama for the answers.
Rama rolled her eyes when asked about the destination and shook her head. Popping a piece of her croissant, she chewed and swallowed while he looked on in hope. She told him that this was something he had to find for himself, she was not his babysitter, she was just his agent. Nothing more. He pouted at her and she still shook her head. She was a cruel woman, he told her.
She glared at him and finally suggested, “You could go to hell, I hear it’s fun there.”
His eyes widened and then, the pout made a return.
So, now, he had to decide where he wanted to go. He gulped down his now cold coffee and muttered, “Maybe I should go to Europe, that would make you happy, wouldn’t it? Far, far away from me. Why, you would be free of me and my needs.”
There was a gleam in Rama’s eyes that he didn’t like, her eyes danced and she agreed with him. “You have never been to Europe anyway, so why not? Get to know more about that continent, maybe something will strike your fancy and you will start writing on the road, who knows? But please, don’t go to USA. You have too many relatives there for it to be a ‘on your own’ thing.”
So, in her own way, she did decide for him in the end. He would have to look up where he might be excited to go but in the end, at least she pointed him in a direction.