Tag Archives: The Blank Page

And It Stoned Me To My Soul

writer

Today I have a day off and I want to write.

So I emptied and loaded the dishwasher, watched 2 cooking shows, finished the last chapter of Trans Atlantic, looked up recipes for vegan caesar salad dressing which led to trying to find recipes for inspiring lentil casseroles (an oxymoron?), which took me to to a bookcase near the CDs and I wonder how did Van Morrison wind up next to the High School Musical soundtrack? Now I’m thinking about picking up a pair of winter pants that have been at the dry cleaners since January and taking 2 epic fail bras back to the store or buying some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

I’ve been wanting to start a puzzle and I need to find some paperwork for my Flexible Spending Account and I have a couple loads of dirty clothes that are going to solidify into the shape of the laundry basket if I don’t do them soon. Plus, the dogs haven’t barked in over an hour so I should probably put a mirror in front of their muzzles to make sure it fogs up. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and a telemarketer will call.

It’s brutal. The blank page.

Divine inspiration is scarce.  And no matter what they say, just showing up is not 80% of the work. Because you can show up and just stare at that white empty space and feel like you’re going to choke on the saliva that’s turning to dust in your throat. Or you can pull up an old half-started manuscript and watch the words start to cyclone into something indecipherable and you know you are faking this as clearly and truly as you know you will never sky dive or eat a bug. You will be voted off the island before you even get there.

And then after a lot of angst and decay of the soul you just write something. Even if it sucks. Even it it’s offensive or a lie or barely makes sense. You just stop snarling and spitting into the wind and put your gory beat up self out there. It’s not pretty. It’s not as satisfying as Ben & Jerry’s. But it plugs up a hole or two. It makes the day feel like it’s your day. And then you can listen to Van Morrison with a clear heart.

And I shall watch the ferry-boats
And they’ll get high
On a bluer ocean
Against tomorrow’s sky
And I will never grow so old again
-Van Morrison

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Righting

blank pageThe blank page.

It makes my scalp itch. My lips chap. My bowels growl.

I feel like I suddenly need to pee or drive to Canada or eat onion rings.

There is no getting around the blank page. It’s like standing at the opening of Plato’s cave – you have to decide, do I go in and get chained to the wall? Do I face the shadows and create a reality from them? Or do I stay out here in the sun and do the dishes? The blank page is a frenemy. It acts all fun and cool and like, I really think you’re great, let’s do stuff together, and then it makes you feel stupid and uncouth and lazy because you never took Latin or you make peanut butter cookies from a mix or your kid is going to the local community college and not Dartmouth or your bathroom is the size of a closet and your closet is the size of a cupboard, or you wear pants with elastic waistbands, or your house is full of dog hair, or you watch Scandal, or you’ve never been to Europe, or you can’t roller blade/wind sail/rock climb/run a 10K/do a single push up/get a personal trainer. You are totally wary of the blank page but you keep going back.

But here’s the thing. If you face it down, if you start hitting it hard with letters and words and sentences, if you let your mind go and your heart expand and your eyes stay clear, focused, open, then the miracle happens. It is no longer blank. For better or worse, it is yours. It says something you wanted to say. Maybe not perfectly, or with the right simile or the richest vocabulary or the exact rhythm, but it’s there, in black and white. You were there.

And you feel, well you feel ok. Not happy exactly, although you may feel that sometimes, or satisfied, although that can happen too, but you feel ok. You feel like you’re alright. Like everything’s all right.

That’s what I’m shooting for. What about you?

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