The blank page. Typically it’s something I only see for a second, while Word finishes booting up. Then I’m off and running, filling it with words, usually almost verbatim from what I mentally wrote during my walk with my current Seeing Eye® puppy. She (they have all been females) and I talk over my upcoming scenes while we walk, more or less, our one-mile version of exercise. The conversations are more than a bit one-sided, which is good, since Seeing Eye dogs are supposed to be quiet at all times.
I say more or less, because sometimes there is a bit of wrestling going on, when we pass someone or something she wants to see. It can be enough to knock my planned writing out of my head (or me off my feet), so I reinforce it by going over and over my ideas in my mind, sort of like the movie Groundhog Day. It’s the same way I try to hang on to the thoughts I dream up in the shower or that keep me from dozing off at night—I jot them down, often on little scraps of paper.
Wilda, this year’s puppy, and I took what I had thought was an especially productive walk earlier this week—for the most part she did not get distracted as we passed joggers and bikers and other dogs and I suddenly got a concept for this month’s blog. It started to write itself in my mind. We came home, each of us slugged down a big drink of water, one of us more neatly than the other, and I sat down to write my ideas. It took just a few minutes.
The next morning the blog I had written didn’t look so good. In fact, it seemed to lack a point, which is what I had thought was my topic. So I deleted it, and was left with that blank page I had seldom before faced. It isn’t that I am such a wonderful, idea-filled writer. I just don’t sit down to write until what I’m going to write is gelling in my mind. I wait until my brain is ready to go. But I suspect that is an irresponsible way to look at writing for a serious writer. There are days I’d rather stay home and work on my books or play with my puppy than go to my day job. But I don’t do that. So why do I let myself slide and only write when I am ready?
Probably because of the dreaded blank page.
* From the song Book Report in the musical You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, based on the Charles M. Schulz comic strip Peanuts.