The Light of the Blank Page

I write mostly memoir now, but it is still my job to forget the past. As a writer, it is my job to believe more in what will be than what was. After all, whether I am writing a memoir or a poem or a novel or a screenplay, my writing begins with a blank page. Everything that ever has been written already fills other pages. All that I hope for and believe in will one day fill my page. But first there is that emptiness and the question of what I would like most to occupy it. The answer has nothing to do with the past. I would prefer to never care about the past except as material. But I do care about it. I replay victories and attempt to rewrite losses. Habits I can’t remember forming make choices for me before I recognize a choice is being made. And at my lowest and darkest, I see time as a cycle of predictable repetition, the future a dystopian, unchanging extension of what already is.

What a gift the light of the blank page is at these moments. There is my future as I choose to believe in it or not. There is what can be made and erased, what can be dreamt and undreamt. When I chose to write, I did not see myself pursuing a career so close the holy man’s. I just wanted to tell stories. But what choice do any of us have? The story cannot live in the minds of others until we tell it, and we cannot tell it until we believe it is worth telling. What choice do we have but to stand at the altar of our imagination and say we believe more in what will be than what is?

This is heresy in some circles, I know. It’s why writers like to gather together occasionally and commiserate. Here we can share tales from the dream-state from which our favorite stories are born. The dream-state bears so little resemblance to the rest of our lives that we must believe in it again and again to reenter it. To talk of it sounds crazy sometimes, but you would be worse than crazy not to seek it again once you’ve found it. It has no replacement, the same as life has no opposite.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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