Some days writing is like having a splinter. You know it’s there–a scene, say. You can feel it throbbing, just under the surface. And you can almost see it, maybe just one end poking up, but still it’s but enough to make you think, “No problem. I’ll have this out in a snap.”
And so you get the tweezers and start prodding, pinching. Soon you’re scraping. Then you’re digging. But nothing.
You try to ignore it, persuading yourself that it will simply work its way out naturally, but that’s no good because you can’t do anything else until you get the thing out. It takes up your whole mind.
You remember reading something about duct tape, so you press on a small square, wait a while and whip it off with a yelp. Or maybe glue–so you paint a layer on like a new skin and when it’s dry, peel it away so the splinter will come too. Next you go for the needle, trying first with the eye, hoping to draw the splinter through like thread. Then you pricking with the point.
By now an area ten times the splinter’s size is inflamed, maybe pocked with blood. You’ve extracted microscopic bits of dirt, torn away layers of skin, thrown out welcome mats to countless bacteria. You’ve rerouted your lifeline. But still the splinter is there. Deeper than you thought. At an odd angle.
You consider breaking out the salicylic acid to burn a hole in your hand.
You seriously consider chopping off your hand.
But before you do that–breathe. Remember you got the splinter because you were doing something that mattered–hammering together a border for a raised bed garden, stripping the industrial paint off an old desk to get down to the truth of the wood, framing the walls of the house only you can build.
So, take a rest. Soak that sore spot in a warm bath. Treat the wound kindly with a balm of chamomile and calendula. Think about it if you must, and you must–but be patient. It really will work an edge up to the surface in time, just enough to grab it firmly and pull it free.