The Blank Page

I have to fill it. It won’t get filled on its own. It’s my job to do the work and most days I’m just not sure I have it in me. I’m sure today is one of these days. These many days. This, despite the fact that my head is swimming with ideas. Dozens at any given moment.

My fear is perfectly represented here. The fear of the unknown. The fear of failure. Because I can’t even see the finished product of what this thing will be once filled with words and ideas. The hardest part of writing, of anything really, is starting. I just don’t know where to start. Then, even if I manage to start, will I know what finished looks like?

Sometimes, rarely, the page pops into my head. Completed. Finished. Before it is even started. I approach the blankness and type it and ship it and people love it and they let me know and I never reveal my secrets. The secret that it took me so little time or real effort. The secret that it almost never, ever, ever, works that way. That, most days, I spend hours completely paralyzed in front of the grave in which I’m sure my talent is destined to proceed me, long before it is time for my body and mind to follow.

I have to force myself to sit here and stare at it. To look into my fear and let it mock me with the possibility that it will beat me. That I won’t be able to start and it will remain perfectly fine. In its natural state. Blank. Therefore, I too will remain in my natural state. Afraid.

But, I know somewhere deep and primal, it is a matter of time and a test of will. That I can overcome my fear. That I have plenty to fill that empty space with. That it does not require some rare moment of clarity or enlightenment. That all it requires is the courage to write one word. Then, follow it with another. Pretty soon you have a sentence. Then, a paragraph. Then, soon enough, ideas will form. Those could turn into a letter. A post. An essay. Or, eventually, a book.

It starts right here. For me. For everyone. Every day. A hole we are required to face our fears to fill.

An empty space on the floor by my bed waiting to be filled with my first step. An empty pot waiting to be filled with my coffee. A spouse waiting to be filled with my devotion. A waking child waiting to be filled with my love. A page…

This was originally written for my now discontinued subscription newsletter. I’ve made the decision to take some of my favorites from there and put them here.

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