Typically, when a protagonist has a writing block, it means he/she will have to face adversity, resolve inner conflicts, grow and learn, then find love and write again. Not so for John Goodman in the first season of the HBO series Treme, as he portrays an passionate, foul-mouthed English professor in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Outraged at the government’s lengthy neglect of the levees and lack of effective disaster response in the devastated city he adores, Goodman spews his contempt vociferously and hilariously in interviews and on Youtube.
What we later learn is that he has been working for six years
on a book about an earlier flood in New Orleans and has stopped writing. His publisher’s advance has been spent long ago, and he fears they will ask for the money back. A visit from his contact at the publisher raises his concern, but she tells him that Katrina has made his book even more relevant and they want it done soon.
Goodman tries to produce, and at this juncture we see some classic writing block scenes as he grapples unsuccessfully with his book – blankly staring at the computer, working all night with nothing to show for it, crumpling and throwing drafts in disgust, etc. For a variety of reasons, Goodman is a man being drawn inexorably into the dark night of the soul, desperately wanting to redeem himself by producing the book, but being completely unable to do it. Kind of sad, but a good portrayal of the suffering of the barren writer.
Watch Treme and find out what happens.