Writer’s block is the inability to produce new work. It comes in many shades, from abandoning a writing career because we’ve dried up, to just feeling that our writing doesn’t do what we want it to do, or convey what we want it to convey. It can leave us feeling frustrated, angry, miserable, half-alive. ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ by Salman Rushdie, opens with just such a scenario.

Haroun’s father, Rashid, is a famous storyteller, known as ‘The Oceans of Notions’ to those who admire his talent, and ‘The Shah of Blah’ to those who don’t. One day Haroun arrives home from school to find his father crying. His mother has run away with Mr Sengupta, who lives upstairs. Haroun says a terrible thing to his father- “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?”

When Rashid then tries to tell a story, no words come out. He takes his son on a storytelling job for the politicos, but the only words that come out are ‘Ark ark ark’. The people are very angry and threaten to cut out his tongue.

We may not identify with this specific scenario, but many of us know the emotional underpinning- that anguished, frustrated place of block.

Writing wild words is about moving from stuckness to fluidity and re-finding our creative expression. Next week I’ll talk about how Rashid came to understand the source of his muteness.


The Weekly Prompt

“What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?”

A provocative statement. Write your own ‘true’, or ‘fabricated’ story/words on this subject. As ever, I’d be delighted to read them.