Dante Papier: Notes from a difficult time
Dante Papier is the mind-child of Novlr Author Daniel Piper, whom you can find on Instagram and substack and you can buy his book here. He has a column here on the Novlr blog (read his intro here). Enjoy.
Dear friends and fans,
Please accept my sincere, profound and heartfelt apologies for the lack of email newsletter updates over the past few weeks. I am ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated to reveal that I have been suffering from that most heartbreaking, devastating and crippling of diseases: writer’s block.
Dear reader, it is true: I have found myself unable to write. Yes, me! No matter how hard I pushed, squeezed, tensed, gurned and writhed, the words would not come out. When, after one particularly gruelling session, I finally looked down at the sweat and tear-stained paper before me, I discovered that over twelve long hours I had managed to write just a single word: car.
I shall be frank with you, gentle reader. It has been a difficult time for me. Much has been made of the struggles faced by humankind as a whole over the past year, but I am sure you will agree that nothing quite compares to the pain of writer’s block. I thought I was immune from her clutches. But as I have now come to learn the hard way, she is a cruel and indiscriminate mistress – only too happy to strike down even the most talented of writers sans warning. It baffles me, humble reader, that so few newspaper columns are dedicated to the dangers of writer’s block. Indeed, it flaggerbasts me that so few scientists are working on a vaccine.
I have never felt more alone or afraid than I have over the past few weeks. Sitting in the dark of my apartment, sweating, shivering and asking myself why I had written the word ‘car’ when I have literally no interest in cars, I began to wonder if I was going to make it through the Spring. Perhaps I would slowly slip away right there at my desk, only to be discovered months (years?) later by my landlord, having left only the word ‘car’ as a note. That is not how I want to go, dear reader. I have so much more to write!
So… I am thrilled, delighted, jubilant and happy to announce that I am now cured! I am free! In fact, as I write these words, I am sitting in (technically out) a cafe! Yes, gentle reader, the easing of lockdown restrictions across the UK means I have been able to re-enter my natural habitat. O’, how I have missed it. The gentle hum of voices. The smoothness of my oat flat white. The curious and admiring glances from baristas and other customers as I type on my iPad. Who is he? They wonder. What is he writing? If I ask politely, will he let me read it? (No.)
It has always been impossible for me to sit in a cafe without attracting attention. Like a painter setting up an easel in the National Gallery, or Harry Styles bursting into song in HMV, a writer typing away on his iPad in a cafe is always going to draw a crowd. The cafe is our natural habitat. It is where we belong. Where I belong. I can only assume that finally being able to revisit cafes is what cured me of my affliction. Writer’s block is no match for an iPad and an oat flat white. For the last week, I have spent every day sitting in (out) cafes, whatever the weather, and I have written more than I ever have in my life. Time will tell whether I am destined to fall victim to a second wave of writer’s block, but for now, gentle reader, I am cured. And it feels so write.
This week I have written:
- A short play about truth
- A novel about cheese
- A screenplay for a body-swap comedy film involving actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam
- A short play about death
- A medium-length play about sorrow
- A series of sonnets paying tribute to obsolete video formats (VHS, Betamax, LaserDisc, etc.)
- A novel about a talented writer and his inspiring battle to overcome a difficult and unexpected bout of writer’s block
- A screenplay for a body-swap comedy film involving UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and American hairdresser and Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness
- A collection of short stories about a young priest questioning his faith after watching (and enjoying) an adult film
- A biting political essay about the lack of public toilets available during lockdown
- A poem about pain
Author, Writer & Litterateur