Blank Page Allure
There’s a lofty addiction in writing I failed to remember, low these years of escape from any chronic practice. I actually look forward to sitting down to face the blank page. Like the elementary tryst with a lover, anything or nothing may come. It’s as if time stops and I’m completely suspended in the creative climax of possibility. I lose my sense of time if I allow utter presence. Hence addiction. It’s nice to be back. Also, terrifying that it will let me down, like that lover or a boyfriend who may end the affair. But life would not be worth living without it.
And, funny, that I’m not quite ready to take responsibility for all of it. For me, this writing thing has always been a sense of collaboration. I’ve never done it all. It comes to me. From something, somewhere. And, I’ve never questioned any of that, only delighted in it. Transformed, like the white girl I am into a browned beach-beauty in summer, it just happens. Of course, the more I put into it, the more I get out of it. But too much prodding can burn, as any white girl under the searing summer rays will recollect with malice. One thousand volts jolting through me plugged into some universal grid or writing matrix.
That said, I’ve been listening to Liz Gilbert’s book Big Magic which I mention because my absorption is with fervor. Everything I say, she outlines even better. If you like being an artist of any sort, a creator, please read it. And don’t bother thanking me. Just keep at it. As Nike so aptly markets: Just do it. My personal point is the high that writing and creating provides to me, regardless of who reads it, critiques it, ignores it or leaps for joy over it. Within it I shine. Without it, I haven’t a clue who I’ve been pretending to be.
I unearthed this buried treasure of my love for writing out of a challenge. I was witnessing myself languish in a conscious pool of blah. For a woman who joyously perks up with any mention of water, I was missing the fun in my own mental playground paradise. All along it was available. It never left me. I left it.
I like to envision writing as the best friend, or your pet dog, who is an excellent listener, will cuddle with you when needed, and only intently talks or bites back. I do think there are life moments I was bitten so hard that the writing vanished because I refused to face the conversation of pain. It took a few years, in one hindsight instance, for me to recognize this was happening. Today, I trust it might again. But I’m armed with a bit more ‘upstairs’, as they say. I give myself the credit that my brain knows good and well when I’m slacking or dismissing something I adore and value, even when copious effort is involved.
Maybe, there was a smidge of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) too. I’d watched friends, associates, idols, and beloved strangers make their way to all kinds of writing and creative ventures. Some with wild success, mild success, or simply for pleasure. In self-defense, I had kept up with two interspersed writings through the many years since my youthful days of continual journaling. One, I took to creating a few different iPhone Notes where I’d jot down ideas for a blog, blog stories, books, titles of stories, etc. I never completed any of those to an end, but they remain as tokens of inspiration. Two, since 2008, I’d started a journal dedicated to my husband-to-be. The idea is to fill it with personal things, private notes, poems, drawings, nonsense and lots of sense, but intimately for him. I hesitated to share this, only that it’s meant to be a surprise on our wedding night, and I haven’t connected with said hubby yet. He might read this. The surprise might be blown. It’s conceivable. I’m taking a lot of chances this new year. So be it. I’m gambling on it. He might also forget I ever called it out if he does stumble upon this.
There is a hiccup with the hubby journal in my lack of attention to it at times. I’ve gone for immense stretches where I don’t ever pull it out to try to add something new. I feel defeated when I notice this pattern. I think a lot about the notion that my lack of attention might be keeping him from me. Yes, I’m that kind of thinker and that kind of woman. It’s painful at times when writer’s block comes.
When the well dries up and I’m floundering like those fishes out of water, searching desperately for decent words — not even good words — to string together with a similar decent thought, I almost want to cry or die. Right there. In moments it happens that I mistake all this passion about writing, and singing praise about words, and I retreat. I fall exasperated into a heap of worthlessness. I fold inward to this coward inside. I convene with demons that are the silliest and gravest of menaces. They have the same influential allure as the words with which I started. They are strapping, covert in their punctuation, or lack thereof. They ask to hold my hand, brush their fingers across my cheeks and neck so slightly, breathing onto me lightly at first to tantalize. Then, they go for the jugular. They swipe every last breath of air from me and seize my life.
It’s equally distasteful that tiny writing spurts still show their face at inopportune moments like the middle of the night waking me, while I’m driving and cannot write things down easily, or when I’m on the toilet without my phone (indeed, often it is there with me, at which time I’ve been known to spend a long time on the toilet for non-toilet reasons writing feverishly). This invocation measures its own sermons on an agenda for which I have little control. Some junctures I might catch my prayer in the next room, during a bungee jump, when I’m climbing a tree, from a dalliance with that cat or the neighbors dog, in the middle of a movie theatre, as the doorbell rings, watching television, while have sex, hearing an airplane flying high above, or especially when I’m on the airplane flying onward. Other than that, I’m proud of myself for keeping two writings published a week lately. Even when I know they may not be compared to any of the greatest, and I could certainly pour many more hours into making them better, I gave myself deadlines and I want to practice adhering to them.
Besides, it is a euphoric intoxication. If I don’t give any claim to the blindness, the frozen exhaustive contemplation that there’s nothing left I can say that’s worthwhile, ever, an inkling remains. Instead, if I lead with stoic silence, clenching onto hope, from stillness there may come a stir. Or, I rise to chase the sound whistling off yonder. Sometimes I must wait this punishing length of time. Or, a grueling instant may fan into a flicker, which then flames.
All in, the song of writing is intervals akin to your favorite radio stations. Never boring you. Pouring pleasing sounds. Converting your angst. Surprising you enough to keep you tuned in. Here and there, delicate snowflakes falling ideas all around, or as the deluge of a rainstorm, else nary a thing seemingly in a stale, dry, desert air.
The naked page may be dealt with professionally or personally. Professionally, I dress it up. Personally, I make love to it. Often, a generous amount of foreplay is involved. A naked page is friend, foe, and stranger. It resembles all these people, these ideas, alive inside of me. I write to set them free. Some of them clawing the walls of my skin from the inside out and making me physically exhausted when they protrude. Others massaging their way from among my curves and corners entrancingly. The entire process is universal fertility. The good fortune to become impregnated and birth a new life. For this woman who’s not claimed that reality in this lifetime, I’d forgotten all the birthing that I’d done by creating anyway, another way, by bearing the fruits of a different labor through writing. I love my growing family of stories.