1. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT frustrates me as a writer is my own self-limitation. Specifically, I am speaking of the notoriously difficult and bothersome Third Thing.
2. The Third Thing works like this. I will write a sentence that begins, say, with a simple thesis: “There are three things that Elmer worried about…” Two examples will occur to me right off the bat: “…death, taxes, and …” It’s what comes after the “and” that always gets me.
3. Now, you might say, “Who really needs three examples of something? Just write two and be done with it.” But my Muse won’t let me. Three things there are in my personal narrative-structural universe, and three things there shall be. Two seems, well, unnatural. So there I’ll sit for minutes at a time, creating and rejecting, creating and rejecting, unable to go on unless and until I think of the Third Thing.
4. When I was a newspaper reporter, this damned conceit would make me miss deadlines, or come pret’near to it. It still drags me down as a fictionist. And there is no escape in sight.
5. Perhaps I should make peace with this miniature form of writer’s block. I could always finesse it, obviate it, or … damn.