A blank page,
And I could write on it a story of a man, like no man you have ever knows. He could be comely and tall, broad shouldered, blue eyed, full lipped and fearless. He could be kind, subtly, and understand the nature of those around him in a way they can not understand themselves. I could write his history. I could place him in wars, in the depths of addiction, homes ravaged by abuse, and line by line you could read his journey. He’d dig himself out, devote himself to some noble cause. The man could save some woman from herself, and ask for nothing in return. She would choose to give him everything because she was in love. I can write all the lies I can think of. Hoping someone will relate to them. That I could play the man, and save lonely souls from themselves with little more than my fingers, perspective, and poetic license.
I could write about a girl who seems as familiar to you as your best friend. A little bit dark, and little bit light, but the life of the party all the same. I could make her weak, vulnerable, hiding behind a mask. She would have everyone and no one all the same. Shallow interactions would rule her life, and she would need to go far away to start again. She’d dream of migrating to some large city where she could be anyone she wanted. A place where she could feed off anonymity. But that would be too expensive. Instead she would become withdrawn and solitary. Trying to find herself. So lonely perhaps she’d face a tragic end. I’d hope for people to question the stability of their friends. Perhaps invite sympathy to those battling with demons beneath their skin. And I could smile knowing I had helped even one person, despite failing the very character I’d created.
I could take a path that leads far from reality. I could try to take those who cared enough to read what I wrote to a land where the sea meets the sky, and creatures of vivid color and striking size fly and swim as they choose. I could create a town, a city, a nation, that struggles to coexist with the creatures. I could orchestrate a war. I could bring merciless characters to life and of course create heros to match. I could decide the fate of characters with the flip of a coin, sparing all from my bias. I could fill pages with allegory to promote tolerance and acceptance. But who would it reach? Who am I to attempt such a feat?
With a blank page, I could bring dreams and nightmares to life. I could make the impossible reality, I could try to make reality satisfying, or I could color pages in black and white with the words that echo in my mind day and night.
For a long time, I chose not to fill my pages with anything. The words I placed together never seemed to convey what I meant, and I grew frustrated. There were many things I made to say that hardly made sense in writing. I tried again and again to write a story that has never been written. I longed for inspiration to strike me like a bolt from the heavens and allow me to elevate to some super-human creative state.
I was trying to cover a blank page. Because with a blank page I could write of fearless men, vulnerable women, and knights and castles. With a blank page, I could write anything.
So I thought.
And so I struggled.
Because there was no blank page. There never was.
When I look at a page, it is never blank. A crisp white page with no lines or marks is covered so nearly no white remains. I see the words the hundreds of thousands poets, novelists, historians, satirists, journalists, who have written before me, who will write after me, and who are writing now. I see my life experiences mapped out before me. I see my classroom chalkboards from grade school, the whiteboards from college. My memories lie on the white pages, ones I’d damn near forgotten, full of love, hate, fear, anger, strength and weakness.
And I remember it is a black page my stories must come from. To produce anything worth reading, I have to connect the writing on my pages. I can not write for others, or for myself. I have to create a story from myself and all I know.