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It’s All I Have

To a writer, nothing is more exhilarating than a blank page.

To a writer, nothing is more terrifying than a blank page.

It all depends. A blank page either invites or it taunts. It awakens imagination, beckons invention, stimulates creativity. Or it mirrors your own blankness, echoes and mocks your own bottomless emptiness. It applauds your genius, or accuses your mediocrity. It calls forth your best self, or jeers the failure you long suspected you were.

For writers, the blank page is a great gift, or a terrible curse. Best friend, or worst enemy.

It all depends.

I write this after staring at a blank page for an inordinately long time. Some days, just the sight of one quickens me like gunshot, and triggers in me an outpouring of ideas that almost magically shape themselves into words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, pages. On my best days, I’m like an amanuensis to myself. It’s like I’m taking notes on someone else, someone bright and eloquent. It’s that easy.

But not today. Indeed, not most days. Today is just an extreme version of most days. Today, the blank page gloats at my stuckness, and then resists almost every word I try to score it with: awkward, trite, cliché, wooden, it says. Can’t you do better than that? it asks.

Today, no, I can’t. It’s all I have.

I give it anyhow.

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