Confronting the Blank Page

Thursday evening. The digital display on the front of the dust covered cable box reads 9:11. The house is empty and quiet. Kim had to work late and Fiona, my youngest daughter, the only one that has not headed off to college yet, is out at a concert with a friend.

There are still thousands of unread emails in my inbox beckoning to me, but I have done enough on the computer today. I read emails, visited various blogs, wrote a few replies, comments on blogs and a post for my own blog. I also did a little programming for a project that is winding down with a frustrating denouement and did some investigating for some future projects and blog posts.

The hum of the computers adds to the empty feeling of the house. After I prepared my one person dinner; a steak I was supposed to eat with Kim last night, but worked too late to be home for dinner, along with some tomatoes from our weekly community supported agriculture delivery, I fled the house in search of something; something to foretell the next great adventure.

In less than two months, I will start on my next attempt at writing a novel. November is National Novel Writing month. I wrote a novel in 2007 which sits on my hard drive. 2008 saw false starts which ended up without a novel being completed. This year, I have my story in mind and the characters are fighting for recognition and definition.

One thing I did not like about my 2007 novel is that the characters were not as complicated as I would have liked. They did not grow or change as much as I wanted. I’ve been reading Irvin Yalom’s “Everyday gets a little closer”. It isn’t fiction. It is the recounting of a person in therapy with Dr. Yalom and provides lots of depth and growth of the main character.

A friend of mine is fighting leukemia. In a recent journal entry, she spoke about “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society”. I checked online to find that it is not currently available at the public library. Yet I headed over there to see if a librarian might suggest a book somehow like that.

After a brief discussion, where we found most of the suggestions where also all checked out, the librarian suggested “The Reader” by Bernard Schlink. She mentioned that it was much better than the movie, which I hadn’t seen. Yet as I stood at the shelves, I decided to check out both, “The Reader” as well as “Flights of Love” by the same author.

I headed up to bed to quietly read while I waited for Kim and Fiona to get home. I was struck by the detailed descriptions in the beginning of “Flights of Love”. This is another area where I am weak in my writing and I’m thinking of trying to work on this as well.

I have been writing every day for my blog. I believe that the discipline has helped my writing, however, I still need to work extensively on describing setting and exploring the evolving characters in my stories. This is not something I really work on in my blog posts, but I may try doing more of that as writing exercises.

As I thought about this, my thoughts returned to Wednesday evening’s open house at my daughter’s school. Her teacher talked about how everyone claims to read with their children, but writing is also important and who talks about writing with their children? He will be sending home writing prompts for Fiona. I may get Fiona to put her writings in a blog. We’ll see. I wondered, should I write my own responses to the writing prompts? I don’t think that would be good. She needs to write her way and not have me writing about the same things. So, I will look for things to write about to expand my descriptive writing abilities.

The little display in the lower right hand corner of my laptop tells me it is now 9:40 as my wife walks in the door. The house is no longer empty the way it had been. I have confronted the blank page and written a long blog post. I will reread it and edit it in the morning.

Friday morning. I have completed my edits and will post the blog post. I pause to wonder about my audience. Many different people approach my blog from many different perspectives. What will they, what will you, get out of this blog post?