On the blank page

Many people fear writing as if it were some arcane art in which only especially initiated adepts were allowed to work. Still others doubt that they have any talent at all, and they don’t want to make a fool of themselves, or that they don’t really have anything to say. They see the blank page as a challenge, not as an opportunity. The blank page stands before all of humanity as a monument to immobility. The difference between writers and non-writers is simple: writers don’t think about the shame of failure or that others will think their words boring or superficial. I have read things that I consider boring and superficial, but I have seldom come across anything that should never have been written at all. Some people will stare at the blank page and feel defeated before they even start because they fear failure, yet they have given themselves over to failure without even having tried. Writing is just words, one right after another, forming sentences, ideas, arguments, but if you never try to write, the blank page is a barrier, a wall you will never climb or pull down. Some people cannot even get past the first word, much less the first sentence. When I have thought my work trite or vacuous, there have been times when I have thrown things away, but for the most part, if I just keep writing, letting the words march across the paper by themselves, I can always go back and edit, throw away the crap, polish the good stuff. The blank page is filled with so much opportunity, so many possibilities, so much creative energy that you must yearn to fill it with discourse, poems, essays, conversations, descriptions, arguments, explanations. Bad writing is always a possibility, but if you never write at all, you are wearing cement shoes and won’t go much of anywhere. I see the blank page as a page already filled with ideas, metaphors, similes and a host of other poetic tropes which are all willing to clarify an to confuse perhaps both at the same time. Words are dark, no question, but we are all playing with the dictionary, so why not split open the dictionary and let the words run wild? The blank page stands up to the creative energy of the literary arts. All the best writers that have ever lived have always lamented the fact that there is nothing new to write about, so if we accept that premiss as a given, then we can stop worrying about whether Seneca or Ovid or Horace wrote about it two thousand years ago. I know I was born late, but there is nothing I, as a writer, can do about that. I accept the blank page as my traveling companion, and I am willing to work hard to fill up that page, sometimes with greater or lesser success. Thinking about the blank page just makes me want to write all that much more, and it also makes me care less about whether anyone likes what I write or not. I have no control over how anyone reads my writing–whether it moves them to cry, or moves them to snicker. I can’t even be sure if they understand what I write, but then again, do I understand what I am writing either? Or if I read this little ramble in two or three years, will I still think the same? Or will that ever matter? Once this is written, it is its piece of art over which I have no control, and that is really what the blank page is really all about, whether we have any control over our work, our ideas, or our lives. The answer is “no”, but then again, this page is no longer blank.