- In the HBO series Bored to Death, we have another blocked writer protagonist getting into trouble, week after week. Jason Schwartzman, like David Duchovney in Californication, plays a blocked writer who overdoes it on the drugs and alcohol, has been dumped by the girl he loves, and whose life is generally spiraling out of control.
- Schwartzman’s character is supposedly writing a follow up book after successfully publishing his first novel, but in Season One he writes precious little. It’s that damn Second Novel Syndrome! (I wrote a previous post on this problem concerning Ralph Ellison’s career).
- Most blocked writers fill unproductive time with diversions like TV, solitaire and peanut butter sandwiches, but Schwartzman avoids his work by diverting his energies into a lame, amateur private detective practice that he advertises on Craig’s List. He manufactures a heroic life that he is fantastically ill-prepared for, as an antidote to the reality of his languishing fortunes on all fronts. Kind of tragic, but pretty funny too.
- I have not yet seen this private dick procrastination strategy in my work consulting with writers, but I have seen the writing wheels grind to a halt for several authors who experienced early success in their career. Somehow the writing becomes more complicated with additional expectations now in the mix , and the challenge of living up to a reputation that did not exist for the first book.
- Despite the good acting and blocked writer themes, I eventually got bored watching Bored to Death, and probably won’t put Season Two in my Netflix queue. From what I understand, Schwartzman’s second novel gets finished and rejected. I wish him a happy and productive Season Three, though a cured writing block would probably mean the series is being cancelled.
- No block, no story.