Update. Next Publication is: Under Strange Suns, available digitally August 2015, print version due December 2015, Twilight Times Books.

Hello Blank Page, My Old Friend

Beginning a new project is both exhilarating and daunting. The notebook or the blank document sits before you, an expanse of empty white space waiting for you to fill it with words.

There is a great degree of freedom promised by the empty page. You can put anything there. No limits, no boundaries. A new world to create, new characters to invent, new actions and motivations to develop. Of course, once you start writing, the constraints grow, each a byproduct of the decisions you make. That world will dictate rules, the characters will delimit likely responses, the actions will suggest counteraction. The great idea you had will approach the test of praxis. Does it make sense in the context you’ve established? Would such-and-such work given the rules of the world you’ve built? Would so-and-so really believe X, or perform action Y? The freedom dribbles away as the plot begins to constrict potential options.

And then there’s the sheer amount of time and work involved. The idea has finally hit. You’re ready to begin outlining or writing. The end is so clear in your mind. But then you consider how long it’s going to take to get there. How many hours of sitting and typing. The months of investment this will demand. The rounds of editing. It could be years until anyone reads the final product. What will your life be like by then? How old will your child be? You’ve begun to measure your life by projects, the epoch of Book A, the toddler years of Book B. Are you ready for yet one more?

But you’ve done this before. In the abstract this thought instills confidence. Confidence, however, never fully survives first contact with the Blank Page. Uncertainty will accompany the process, from the first scribbled note of the outline through the final correction of galley proofs.

That’s the Blank Page for you. The obverse and reverse of the coin. The yin and the yang. The Agony and the Ecstasy. The Chico and The Man.

So cowboy up and deal with it. C’mon Blank Page, let’s rumble.