Based on a true story:
The life of the would-be author is as stymied in the modern era by a blank screen as those who went before found themselves daunted by the empty page. The subconscious processes data in images, symbols, rather than words, and so words are in themselves merely placeholders for symbols, and symbols are powerful things. We assign them omenic power over our creativity, but perhaps none of them are so potent as the empty page, significant not for what it contains but what it does not.
The difference, one supposes, is the readiness with which the screen can be made to do distracting tricks, all of the colorful, noisy glamour of the modern era at the touch of the button. Procrastination is practically effortless.
A piece of paper will simply lie there and stare you down. I’m not disciplined enough as a writer yet to win that particular staring contest. Not that I can claim to have beaten the blinking of an upright cursor yet either, mind you; that infernal flickering line is fairly adept at marking the endless stretches of minutes during which absolutely nothing of any value occurs to me to type about or, worse, I find midway through my typing that what I’m typing has none.
I have to be in the mood for this tea. There are times when the immense pressure to create something (see: sludge into a diamonds) sends me running for the cabinet in search of something comforting. You’ve (I’ve) got to get out of the trenches, abandon the maginot, and convalesce.
Sit. Sip. Ruminate. You get to a point where you think in words, after a time, which would be horrifying if you didn’t like them so much. If you didn’t enjoy them beyond the point of practical decency, even; to a point of near-obscenity, nursing a deep and secret love of language at the very real peril of turning your lexicon into a purple, frothy, reprehensibly verbose mess. Place them mindfully onto the page, don’t sick them up everywhere, for the love of all that’s holy! But these words exist, anyway: bituminous, intaglio, abrogate, effulgent. Mental snack food, chewy and easy to over-do it with, completely without substance in and of themselves.
Still, you sit and sip the tea and indulge in a few minutes of shameless inventory of various adjectives to describe it, and finally arrive at the right one.
This tea, I think to myself, when properly timed, is sublime.
So you stop, and mull, and look into your cup.
Sublime: it is a word that has roots of slightly muddy origin. Generally assumed in casual conversation to be synonymous in many ways with ‘divine’, there is a great deal more to the nature of the word than first appearances suggest; its etymology connects it to ‘lintel’ (Latin: ‘limen’) — the crossbeam that forms the apex of a doorway. ‘Sublime’ must therefore be extracted thus: to pass beneath a threshold, therefore through a door. The awe and divinity encapsulated within the word are very specific, then, as pertaining to the exaltation and rapturous euphoria one experiences as they pass into the unknown across some threshold, real or imagined.
In this roundabout way, you come across the hot iron of a fresh idea, and strike. The tragedy in the tale is that the cup of tea that served as your muse for the evening sits nearby, nearly-and-not-quite finished, and goes cold, but in a surprise twist, is every bit as sweet on the tepid finish as it was a few minutes — no…what, really?…make that…two hours? — before, when it came to your rescue while you flagged at the keys.