(After the Schmidt Sting Pain Index)

‘I’ve always been blocked as a writer but my desire to write has been so strong that it has always broken down the block and gone past it.’—Tennessee Williams


0.2Mild irritation, like losing a thought on the tip of your tongue.


1.0Perpetual frown, as if straining liquid through a sieve partially clogged with pips and seeds.


2.5An unexpected sense of loss and injustice comparable to standing naked by the bath and finding there’s no hot water.


3.8Nagging exasperation, similar to being stuck in rush-hour traffic on a wet Friday in December.


4.6Growing malcontent, like having a mouse living in the walls of your bedroom and being unable to trap it.


5.0Frustrating sense of isolation akin to the second day of a cold, head congested, eyes streaming.


5.5Turgid constriction, picture a gutter choked with decayed and foul-smelling leaves.


6.0An ongoing, season-long suppression of spirit.


7.2A slow-burning injustice in the bones like being sent to the Gulag for a crime you did not commit.


8.5Life-threatening, tempestuous pain. Imagine a dolphin thrashing in a net off Taiji, Japan.


9.0The windpipe has closed. You live without air.


10.0Elements of all of the above, combining to numb the body: the paralysis of observing years pass and not sitting down to that first precious word.