Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Writing From the Blank Page

I was having lunch with a friend and fellow writer the other day when she expressed her frustration at facing yet another revision of her novel.  "Some days I feel like tossing it in the trash!" she cried. "Begone!" Then she caught herself and reflected.  "Writing is hard work.  Work is hard.  Why should writing be any different?"

Why, indeed?  This business of crafting a story from the blank page takes dedication and commitment.  Yet the work is often as necessary to survival as the air we breathe.

Many of the women who come to the Circle have noted that writing is a groundwire.  They can unleash their deepest (and sometimes darkest) thoughts and put them on paper, thereby studying them in the light and taking away much of their power.  If nothing else, writing is a way to grasp our problems and search for solutions.

Writing from the blank page is a session I will teach at our upcoming Mastering Writing Workshop on October 8 and 9.  I stare at my own blank page almost every morning  as I work on my new memoir.  Sometimes writing prompts help, sometimes inspiration comes from looking out the window and watching the rain fall on the maple tree, which is beginning its slow transformation from green to radiant orange.  Nothing stays the same, yet there is comfort in the ever-repeating cycles of the seasons.

Sometimes, it is deciding whether this morning you are writing for your eyes alone, or an audience.  Even though you think people may never care to read your story, write it anyway.  Who knows?  A theme might emerge; something funny or ironic that can be expanded later.  Many times people suggest "fastwrites" which is merely writing at will and letting the pen dump on the page.  From there a story might surface, for it is true that we write about that which most interests us, or has captured our attention.

So while writing is hard work, it is also a touchstone to moving from the blank page to a story.  All I can say to my friend, to myself and to anyone who is writing, do not ever give up on a story that you believe is worth telling.  Have faith in your own story's surprising journey.

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