There is nothing more daunting—yet beckoning—than a blank page. I wrote this line while journaling in the voice of my new protagonist. Funny how, without intending to, our characters become a writer’s confessor.
Each time I sit down to begin a new chapter or essay, gremlins begin whispering. You’ve lived only one life. How much can you have left to say? I wonder if I’ve milked every original thought in my head. The last piece is surely the best I’ve written. How will I rise to the occasion again? Then I remind myself, that I am a writer and creativity is a sustainable resource. The more I drink from the cup, the faster my creativity replenishes itself. This has proven true again and again. New ideas crystalize, words flow, and a new piece is completed. But the next time I start anew, I’ll look back on that work with fondness, then gaze worriedly at the blank page. What now?
In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway wrote, “You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write the truest sentence that you know.” When I don’t begin with the truest sentence, the words come out stilted as if they’re trying to impress. Those are the lines I cut. They’re just ego bullying me into projecting the smoking-jacket-nursing-a-bourbon author it thinks the world wishes for. Every line thereafter is a slog. I’d rather just write like me.
So many of us are wrestling our personal version of a daunting yet beckoning blank page, worried about living up to what we think are other people’s expectations. Maybe Hemmingway’s words ring true for them as well. When crafting a life, “write the truest sentence you know” and let it lead the way forward.
(PS Thanks for stopping by. Click here to join my newsletter and receive Chapter One of The Last Hoffman.)
Sacrifice, betrayal, family secrets! A widower and young mother struggle to overcome their tragic pasts in a dying mill town. The Last Hoffman explores environmental issues, mental health & social isolation.