John Hardy Bell
An Ode to the Blank Page
The life of a writer is filled with one fleeting experience after another. Inspiration comes and goes. The ecstasy of a five-star book review is quickly replaced with the despair of a one-star hatchet job. The perfect book title you spent months conjuring up is immediately scrapped after you realize it has already been published on Amazon seventeen times.
But there is one constant in the writer's existence, one thing that can be counted on when nothing else can be: the blank page.
The blank page always is. On good days, bad days, rainy days, and sunny days; on mornings when the muse pays you a much-welcomed visit, or for the month-long stretch that she decides to play hooky.
It is never presented to you with the details filled in, the scenes played out, or the emotions expressed. It is cold, it is ruthless, it is merciless, and it is daring you to challenge its dominance.
The blank page is frustration, but it is also possibility. The blank page is fear, but it also provides a means for exorcising those fears. It is the bane of a writer's existence. It is also the reason for her being. The greatest books you have ever read all began as blank pages. The greatest books you will never read have all ended as blank pages.
The blank page doesn't discriminate. The greatest talents among us have had to deal with it in equal measure. But its influence, and ultimately its lasting effect, varies from writer to writer.
How do you view the blank page? With trepidation and pessimism? With a methodical, business-like determination? Or with an openness to the endless possibilities that only a blank canvas can inspire? My own viewpoint changes from day-to-day, sometimes moment to moment.
But my respect for the blank page never changes. It has the power to lift me to the highest of heights one minute and kick the living crap out of me the next. And that is what makes it so special. That is what makes being a writer so special.
So next time you are feeling overwhelmed by that seemingly endless ocean of white filling your computer screen or notebook, take a quick moment to honor, even embrace it. There are very few things that we writers can count on, but the blank page is absolutely one of them. I'm not saying you have to make him your best friend, just don't make him your fiercest enemy.
Because there is one thing you know for certain - he isn't going anywhere.