Loving The Blank Page


The first and most important ingredient in every story ever written is love. It’s not talent or intelligence or skill, qualities that sometimes appear to be divided unequally between writers. That’s an unfortunate and crippling perception, but one that can be quickly remedied if I remember that love is more important than any of that.

I forget sometimes because the word love itself can be a little slippery. I first learned that word as it applied to people and things and activities. People mostly because I was a romantic boy, and the idea of falling in love with someone seemed to give life a shape and meaning it would not have otherwise. But I also loved certain songs and books and movies, and I loved playing certain games, and I loved pizza and ice cream and fresh bread.

But the problem with people and things and activities is they go away, or are lost, or aren’t available, and when this was so I felt hopeless and abandoned. What was life without love? Nothing, really, just a bunch stuff you had to do. It was an empty husk, a drained river, a breathless carcass.

It was about the same time I noticed what life was like without love that I discovered writing. I was a fan of fantasy fiction then, and so I would sit at my typewriter and think about how much I loved wizards and magic and battles between good and evil and ideas would come to me. Gradually the kind of stories I told changed, but where I began them did not. I always started with something I loved, something interesting, something exciting, something that gave life e shape and meaning.

It is always easier to feel love when you’re with someone, or doing something, or appreciating something, but to really understand love you have to be alone and doing nothing. That’s why the blank page continues to teach me so much about what it means to be human. Sometimes when I sit down to write I have no ideas at all. It’s just me and the blank page – and love, if I choose to look for it. It’s always there before the idea, before the story, before the excitement and discovery, but only if I remember what and where it actually is. When I do, I learn again that everything good in the world grows from love, which is everywhere always and equally available to everyone.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.