A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.
– Sidney Sheldon

When the mind is a blank page.

Garlic is wafting through the house, the large industrial fan in my kitchen does nothing to alleviate the smell. I should be sitting here, taking in the heady pungent fragrance, as a form of meditation. Instead, I’m thinking about writing.

That sounds like heaven for most. Except I’ve not written this much is several weeks. Not even in my journal. Sure there have been various lines scribbled here and there in the pages of my personal mental sanctum sanctorum. But they read like the lines of a therapist’s notes “patient claims brain is fried” or, worse, a Twitter status “cereal for a late lunch.”

My friend, Kim, and I discussed our writing today, which is what I think has inspired this, so far, 124 words. She is “fried” and after launching her erotica book club  “Bawdy Bookworms,” I can’t say I blame her. It takes a lot of work to launch something of that magnitude as a sole proprietor.

I sit and look at my “day blog” the one that’s monetized, where I work and eek out a paltry sum, and am … blank. I have no idea what I want to write there, and question any relevance it might have. It’s affected me with everything else I write, as I’m still blank. Flashes of inspiration appear here and there, but nothing concrete.

That being said, I wonder if a fiction piece I started has affected my writing and caused this big “blank” page in my mind. King says, “Write what you know” and what has been on my mind lately was the recurring nightmare from my childhood. I haven’t thought about it in years, but I was in the shower and I remembered this dream. It was so clear, I started writing it down and developing it into fiction.

Therein lies the problem. I think. I’ll spare the details, but I always forced myself awake as a child when the person in my dreams was having his legs cut off. When I told my husband about the dream, remembering it exactly as it happened over and over so many years ago, he was horrified but encouraged my idea of turning it into fiction.

This means I have to finish the dream. No, I don’t have to dream it again, but I have to sit and imagine the dream and what it means. Why were his legs cut off? Do I need to write about was going on in my life to cause this dream? (I know, as it was ongoing, but that’s a can of worms I’m not sure I want to open.)

This dream… I have to gut it out and figure out how to end it. I’ll be quite honest with you, it’s times like this I wish I had Stephen King on speed dial.

Filling the well

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. ~Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was right. I write a lot of informal essays and each one is like taking a sharp razor and slicing my soul open.

I am ignoring my soul.

Part of it is fear. The other part is insecurity. If I avoid the words, then I can ignore all the things about the words that frighten me.

I’m working hard. Too hard. Which means I am not writing.

My soul, the one that bleeds the words, is dry.

And I am not sure how to fill the well within.

“Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”
—Allegra Goodman

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Experts on writing

There have been quite a few podcasts, periscopes, etc., telling people “how to become a better writer.” I’ve listened to a few and they’ve left out the most important things a writer needs to know. The only thing these “experts” have discussed were “apps” to make writing easier. I thought that to be a writer, you had to write.

An app does not make the writing process easier. If an app could do this, we would all be writers. Of course, Stephen King would also be killing us off in his books and Hemingway would be rolling over in his grave.

Writing is not easy. There are days writing is torture. Yet we sit down and write, and then we write some more. We write because we have to write. When we’re happy with our writing, we take a moment and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s a vicious cycle.

Reading is also part of the writing process. If you don’t read, or don’t have time, it is time to stop writing. Reading helps writers develop the skills, or as King calls it, the toolbox, we need to become better writers.

An app will never give us the skills we need to be a better writer. The only thing we can do is sit down and write. When we’re done writing, we write some more, and we keep writing every single day.

I haven’t been writing every day and my own writing has suffered. The tools in my toolbox are rusty. I am a writer and I need to take my own advice.