Friday, May 13, 2011

The joy of a blank page

I've read that some people fear the blank page. They see it as threatening, a challenge they won't be able to meet. But a blank page is the most glorious thing in creation.

Just think: you can write anything! That is such an incredible fact. The whole universe is right there in front of you, like an all-you-can-eat buffet, and you get to choose what you write about. And once you're done you'll realize that an incredible thing has happened. Your story exists in the world; it's real.

Painters and sculptors are necessarily limited by the availability of materials. They are only free to use what they can get their hands on: the colors, the paints they can afford, the canvas, the clay. And they're limited by size because what they create is finite. You can only build so much art from so much paint or clay.

But writing is unbounded. There are no rules to thwart you and there is nothing in your way -- except yourself, if you perversely squat in the middle of your mental roadway and gum up the works. I've said this on this blog before and I'm going to say it again: if you've never written a story, a work of fiction, you have no idea what you're missing.

It's within your power. We all can write, though with differing results based on talent and education. But language is only one level of writing -- the other is the story. And anyone can tell any story. I urge you to tell yours. Afterward, if the writing needs some help, you can seek out an editor. It's amazing what they can do. But don't worry about any of that now. Just tell your tale as interestingly as you can.

Give it a try. What have you got to lose? You worry that it might not be good? Oh, boo hoo. Who cares? At least you did it (and it's a ton of fun, which you'll realize as soon as you try it). Tell your story. It will be the thing you own most in this lifetime. And remember: no one can take writing away from you. Even prisoners have access to paper and pencil, and when they write, their jail cell disappears. They're free.

Give it a shot. After all, you don't have to show it to anyone unless you want to. It can be your secret. Start telling your tale today. As I said (and this will only be clear to you once you've completed your story): it will be the thing you own most in this lifetime.