Writer’s block — or, maybe more accurately, a writer’s expressive frustration — has many presenting symptoms and many causes, but it is at root language-related. Versions of creative stasis may afflict those who practice in other fields — painters and composers can find themselves short of ideas or inspiration — but the situation is not quite the same. Certainly we never hear anything comparable affecting statesmen, lawyers, coaches, electricians or pastry chefs. This affliction afflicts self-anointed users of language, writers, and because their medium of choice — or compulsion — happens to be the universal medium of consciousness and communication, it takes on a metaphysical inflection. If language is the distinctive human feature, its single greatest evolutionary feat, then writers are in a most privileged and vulnerable situation. In the movement from ape to apex, the engaged — successful — use of language, literary expression, represents the latter. It follows then that a frustration or failure in its use must be seen as something more sweepingly indicative as well. The fact that any true success is rare and difficult is not consoling to the person who is failing in the attempt.