|They don't remain blank too long, do they? I once tried to stop thinking, but that only worked for about a second or two. I then started thinking of not thinking. What’s up with that, huh? I forced myself to think about nothing. I was doing just fine until I suddenly started thinking that thinking about nothing was actually thinking about something. I was thinking about nothing, I was not not thinking, get it? My brain is starting to hurt again.
Writers hate blank pages. They are anathema to us. Nasty, blank pages! They are at the same time empty of anything and yet full of nothingness. While they inspire us to throw words at them and fill them up with emotions, thrills, fears, excitement, and so on, they also glare at us, laughing at our inability to quickly fill their emptiness. Nasty, nasty, blank pages! I can almost see the sneer of the page as it laughs at my inability to splash it with adjectives, nouns, adverbs, and the lot. Hateful, blank pages!
Once while staring at a blank page, probably this one before I wrote the first word, I grimaced and grinded my teeth as I struggled to decide which word would be the first to invade and permanently transform this blank page into one that would have something to say. The agony was small at first, and then began to grow as I pondered. It was like the early moments when two lovers are just about to get to that place where explosion meets reality. I felt the intensity growing in me; ever so low at the beginning, but growing and growing. I reached a crescendo flooded with the expectation of wonderful release … and nothing happened. The page was still blank.
What's the plot going to be? Who am I trying to reach with this writing? Will they be impressed …, oh, uh, sorry, I got distracted there for a moment. Where was I? Oh, yes, the hated blank page!
I typed a word on the page and immediately knew it was the wrong one. The blank page burst out in hideous laughter. No I don’t mean audibly, but I heard it just the same. If you were a writer you’d understand. I winced, backed my hands away from the keyboard, and lowered my head in shame. I felt the heat on my cheeks as I sat there, when suddenly I felt a surge of inspiration. Thank God for inspiration.
“I’m not letting a blank page defeat me!” I said. I reached forth, still hearing that awful laughter ringing in my mind, and typed a new word.
Oh, no, I did it again, another wrong word. Even as I finished typing it I knew it was wrong. How could my own senses fool me like that? I hit the backspace key, and as I finished deleting the last of the letters, the laughter grew more intense. It was like a dam burst, the laughter gave me the impression that the blank page would have fallen out of its chair grabbing it’s sides in glee, that is, of course, if it had been sitting in a chair when this all happened.
I cringed again. Well, OK, I winced and cried a little bit like a little girl. Actually, I wanted to tuck my tail between my legs and whimper off into a corner to cry myself to sleep. Thankfully I am not able to physically do that, the tail part, I mean. I felt so defeated.
This time I not only backed away from the keyboard, I got up, rushed from the house, went to Starbucks, and ordered a Chai Tea Latte (hot, no water, made with whole milk, and extra frothy; with lots of love; oh, how I needed that love). I sat at one of the tiny tables they have there, staring at the lid of my cup, sullenly. After a few minutes of indulging in self-pity, and still faintly hearing the lingering laughter in the background of my mind, I felt another surge of inspiration. This time, I contemplated the “inspiration.” I wanted to check and see if it was inspiration for sure, and not just gas (tea can give you gas, you know, or is it just me?).
“I am NOT an animal!” I said hitting the table in front of me hard enough to draw the attention of people around me. I had just watched “The Elephant Man” the week before, and felt a strong kinship with him at that moment. I looked around the place, as I had also startled myself, banging on the table like that, and noticed that the employees were given me worried looks. I mean, heck, who knows, I could have been a terrorist intent on traumatizing people by beating on tables. I thought I noticed the cashier reaching for her cell phone, so I decided to leave.
Back at my computer, I reached for the keyboard. I held my trembling fingers over the keys and stopped.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” I asked myself aloud, “Have you worked out the details in your head? It ‘s going to laugh at you again, you know.”
“I think I have,” I answered.
"You'd better be sure," I said more evenly, "or it will just laugh at you again."
Now don’t get worried, I’m OK. I don’t go around talking to myself and then answering. That only happens when I am writing, or rather, when I am trying to get started writing.
I know what you’re thinking. It can’t be all that hard to just write something. I mean how hard can it be to just type some words on a blank page, using a computer with a keyboard, right? You just push the keys and the words appear on the screen. You really don’t understand, do you? You are either not a writer, or you probably have been gifted with super creativity. Either way, you probably think I should man up, place my fingers on the keys, and go to town on the blank page, right? It’s not that easy! Please don’t make me! I’m scared … oops, I’m doing it again, right? I’ll get a grip on myself. Stop staring at me!
Blank pages are blank pages on purpose. They are meant to be filled. They are a blank slate, empty spot, and all those other adjectives that mean the same thing. I hate blank pages; they scream out at me that I have not filled them yet. It’s like an addiction, the more I fill, the more I have to fill. And, no matter how many I fill, there are always more. I hate them! No, I really don’t. Yes, I do! No, I really don’t. ARRRGH! Calm down, take those little yellow pills and relax… there you go. Now …
I wonder at times if painters, those who sculpture, people who carve wood, and other such, have the same problem with blank canvases. Are they also drawn to them? Do they also feel the desperate need to convey some form of communication upon them? Do their hands shake as they hold the brush, knife, or pencil before the blankness? Do they also hear laughter as I do? Gosh, I hope I’m not the only one that does that.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, blank pages.
When I think of them, I don’t know whether to pray for the inventor of blank pages to be blessed or cursed. I mean, before the invention, what did people do to get themselves started? The only way to pass stories on was what, telling and retelling. The “blank pages” of the time were the people who had not heard the story before. Once hearing a tale, the listener was no longer an empty slate waiting to be filled with the same story. And, the biggest problem with having people as your “blank page,” is that they are not really all that blank, are they? The already have preconceived ideas, thoughts, plans, aspirations, and what not, that will filter what they hear, and how they will react to and then store the information you give them. I guess, after all, that blank pages really are better.
Except when you DON’T know WHAT to write! Then they are like a black hole that sucks up everything around it. They want you to give and give. They want you to write and write; pouring yourself, your dreams, ideas, concepts, humor, sadness, fears, guilt, and more, onto them. And, there are always more blank pages. I can feel the blank page tugging at my very soul. It wants to suck me in.
Finally my fingers land on the keys. I-n space t-h-e space b-e-g-i-n-n-i-n-g, there, that’s a good start. I can take off from here with all kinds of things. Space wars between alien cultures. Romantic encounters between lovers. Pirates attacking ships off of Africa (wait a minute, that one’s already being done by the nightly news. Never mind). I could write about people who can travel between worlds on transportation disks. Hey, I know I’ll write about how the world was created and …oh, uh, that’s been done too, right? I don’t want people thinking I’m going around plagiarizing people’s literary work, especially the “big” guy.
So, where do I go from here? “In the beginning” is a good start. At least the blank page is not laughing at me at the moment. But, I am starting to get nervous. I’m not sure what to type next. I’d better get going or the blank page is going to catch on.
"Please,” I say aloud, “Come on, think of something!”
In the faint corners of my mind I start to hear giggling.
“No, no, please,” I start crying to myself, “Come on, think, think, think.”
The giggling starts getting louder.
“Come on, think. Uh, Rockets, love, fighting, success. Come on!”
Suddenly the giggling turns into loud, obnoxious, infuriating laughter. The blank page won again.
“Arrrrrrrrrgh!” I yell, and I turn off the computer.