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.
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