Dot: Are you working on something new? George: No Dot: That is not like you, George George: I've nothing to say Dot: You have many things George: Well, nothing that's not been said Dot: Said by you, though. George
This blank white page stares back at me as I stare at it. I have so many things that I want to write about and yet I won’t sit down in front of the computer and compose the story. I can’t seem to get the ideas and thoughts to flow from their murky bed of inception into the clear stream of clarity. Even now as I try to describe this situation, I erased the sentence five times and began again finally landing on the one you read.
I wrote in the summer about practicing and how I hate to do it. That is again my problem. There are seven blog entries about my life or experiences that have been started just sitting on my desktop waiting for me to complete them. There are two short stories of fiction that have been started and two that are still swirling in my brain. They call out to me daily and I ignore them. I feel an obligation to finish them yet I won’t do it. I can’t explain why. I want them to be finished. I want to feel the sense of excitement I feel every time I send a new piece I’ve written out into the cyber world that is blogger, twitter, and Facebook. I love seeing the numbers grow as people read what I’ve written. It’s exciting, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Part of my problem is that I don’t quiet my mind and focus on what I want to say. That quieting and focusing clears the path for the words to form at the end of my fingertips as they strike the keys on my computer.
There are times when I’m lying in bed at night and a thought will come to me. Usually it’s a thought about the fiction I’m working on. When I am in a relaxed state and those thoughts happen, I need only grab the notebook and pen that live beside my bed and beautiful descriptions of moments make their way to the page. I look at them the next day and feel a sense of pride in the fact that I wrote them. They may not be great sentences to everyone, but to me, if I’ve managed to describe the image or create the mood that was in my head then it’s a success.
I’ve plenty to say. I’ve even gotten better at saying it. I just don’t say it as often as I used to. I miss that, yet I still make no major effort to change it.
I hear my father’s voice in my head sometimes telling me as a child that I’m lazy. I don’t want to hear that voice because I don’t want him to be right, but somehow I think he is. If I apply that statement from my childhood (which irritated me then) to my current writing process I have to agree (and that irritates me now).
There is no fear in a blank white page. It is a blank canvas on which to create. I have such grand ideas in my head sometimes and I’m afraid I can’t write them the way I see them. Therefore I let the fear of failure-to-translate keep me from continuing my project. I’m a fool for doing that. I judge myself so harshly. I don’t give myself a chance to succeed because I’ve already deemed myself a failure without writing a word. Isn’t that amazing? Having written nothing I’ve already decided it’s not good enough.
Eureka! I think the above words clarify beautifully, and quite simply, the idea that I think I’m not good enough. Ouch! No murkiness there. Now we’re getting to the root of the problem. I don’t think I’m good enough and therefore nothing I do is going to be good enough. So I just brood on what might have been, or what could be, instead of living in the moment of what is...and writing.
I published only 33 blog entries in 2012. That’s down from the 70 I published in 2009 when this blog was fresh and new and I was excited about it. Those numbers are a disappointment to me, and I’m the only one to blame.
Sometimes it only takes a moment to get what I’m thinking down on the page. This took less than half and hour.
There are no resolutions for the coming year, but there is a challenge to write more and fear less. There is a challenge to create and complete. I extend this challenge to myself. I hope to retire the hat of the fool, or at least stow it away in a dark corner to be brought out at times when I need of reminder of how far away from it I have gotten.
George: White. A blank page of canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities...
(Dot and George are characters in the musical Sunday in the Park with George by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Dialogue reprinted without permission. No copyright infringement intended.)