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Deborah C Dooley Headshot

An Appetite for Words

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'L'appetit vient en mangeant,' said a wise French person once. This tasty little sentence translates very smoothly into 'Appetite comes with eating,' and although I don't know who made it famous, I do know that this is one of those sayings that will always hold true.
It applies upon those odd occasions when, as a result of emotional or physical reasons, your stomach seems to have lost its connection to your mouth. Food has no interest for you, the lure of a laden table is no more and the very thought of the meal ahead leaves you cold, bored and very slightly nauseated.
But, should you choose to approach the table, seat yourself and take a mouthful - a firm sliver of pasta, perhaps, delicately laden with a creamy ham and mushroom sauce - something rather wonderful takes place. The tastebuds you thought had given up on life, react to this petit morceau by positively springing into action. Shouting with joy, they send urgently delighted messages to your stomach - and suddenly, hunger is your friend.
And so it is with writing. You may wait - mostly in vain - for Madame La Muse to pay you a visit. Weeks and months may pass and still there is no muse and no urge to write. Just the notion of writing evokes about as much pleasure as that of a lukewarm bath, and as guilt at your lack of progress joins this toxic mix of emotions, the entire business inevitably becomes shrouded in an lethargic and stale atmosphere. As time passes, although you may still think of yourself as a writer, little by little you lose touch with your craft. You say the words 'writer's block' now and again, but even to your own ears, they have a hollow ring.
Things could be very different however, if, like the uninterested diner who forces in the first forkful, you simply discipline yourself to sit down with screen or notebook and start writing. You may be stiff and wooden to start with, as your writing muscles stretch and limber up. But persevere, and remind yourself that while it may feel like mechanical writing - and it may not be the best writing you have ever done, it is still writing. And that is what you do.
Should you choose this practical and determined approach, I guarantee that despite your initial feelings of literary drudgery, more often than not, your muse will eventually put in an appearance. She may be reluctant at first. But when she sees that you mean business, she will join you wholeheartedly, adding her inspiration to your writing with all the enthusiasm of a hungry child eating a pizza.
Bon appétit.