Unwritten Pages: A Writer’s (Or Artist’s) Bane

Unwritten Page

Sweet white the color

of milk, nourishing and refreshing.

Such a lovely sight, such a clean, clear feeling!

Of a pioneer where anything

can happen.

Swimming in white,

clean, bright,

daunting with its harsh unconquerability,

the heavy toil,

endless space to fill

and fill

and fill

until there are no more words

left. Striking out alone,

to journey into the blankness,

with a sword of a thesaurus to guide you, the pure flame

of creativity to light

your way. Where shall you go?

Wherever shall you wander? Yes, conquer!

The vast, empty page, fill it with words

so that it might be populated and its feral ferocity quenched,

expansion of the west-word frontier.

Keep moving,

keep going,

and find the words as you uncover them,

find the way that they sound and feel and look

in the mind, on the mind,

as you push your way

to written.


Whether it’s taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) or just plain old writing, part of the challenge is that blank page, be it electronic or physical. It’s like an ocean as I stare at it, knowing that I have to cross it and somehow fill it up with a bunch of really awesome words that sound amazing, but of course, I never know how. Two things might happen; I might touch my fingers to the keyboard or pencil to paper and find the words explode from my hands, just like they should; or a few might tease free before stopping, unable to be forced out any more. In the end, it’s that satisfaction of seeing what I’ve written–all 50,000 words or all 30 poems or an entire, complete novel– that is the goal, the knowledge that when it’s all over, there will be something that comes of it, something that I couldn’t possibly conceive of when I first started.

Part of the success is the deadline, which pins you to the wall, stares you in the wall, and screams, “FINISH THE THING.” Without a deadline, you can keep picking at loose threads and staring off into space for as long as you want. (Of course, artists and writers are also some of the best procrastinators in the world: “I’ve got a whole month to do this project, who am I kidding…I’ve got three weeks, that’s plenty of time…Hmm, yeah, two weeks, I should get started now…Uh oh, I’ve only got a week left, better work harder–oh sweet writing gods, only three days! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!“)

That’s the point where you realized that all you’ve written is just absolutely cow patties and you can’t use it at all, it doesn’t work, nobody’ll like it, and everything blows really, really hard. It’s also then that you realize that creativity, no matter how often I’ve likened it to the white, sticky stuff, is not like glue that can be squeezed from a bottle (except that it clogs up). It doesn’t hold things together, really, although paradoxically, sanity. If you try to squeeze, the bottle explodes and you’re covered in creative juices, which need to flow and not explode like a fifth-grade science experiment (No, I didn’t get to do one that really exploded, although I wish I had). You start to appreciate the work that writers and novelists have to go through on a nearly daily basis, and that they’re really actually crazy to be able to do such a thing.

And then you realize that–of course–you’re crazy too. ;D



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