The novelist does not sit over a blank page because she has nothing to say. She does not agonize over each sentence because she believes that what she is doing is inherently wrong. It is not because she does not believe in her art form. She sits in struggle because there is conflict within her. It is not her conflict; she did not create it. Rather, she has absorbed it with every breath she has taken in.
If one were to ask a novelist about her work, she might brush it off. She might relay a vague description of a plot, hint at some key themes, and then change the subject. She does not believe that even the most genuine of people want to hear her story. Their interest travels only as far as Vermont to New Hampshire. Her interest spans Andalusia and Lithuania, Middle Earth to Pemberley. Her interest runs rampant through fields of poppies, across volcanic mountains. And yet she understands that their interest in her work is the same as her interest in the PGA. She understands that their interest in the complexities of character creation equals her interest in Polka dancing. She turns the conversation.
If you ask the novelist why she hides her work, she will tell you that it is personal. She will explain that what might be a football to one, was a careful study of engineering to another. She says that to talk about her writing is to talk about herself and when one turns their attention away from her to look out the window, to ask about the new Xbox, to make light of the situation- it makes light of her. If you ask the novelist, she might tell you this really doesn’t matter. One must not be so sensitive about the whole thing. She mustn’t care so much, but she knows that she does.
If you ask the novelist what type of job she wants to do, she hesitates. Everyone places her as a teacher. It’s a tricky world out there for those who do not want to teach, she thinks. They are like lambs without shepherds. They will wander astray, further from their path of truest self because really, who dares to make it as a writer. I’d like to be a lawyer, an editor, a bookbinder, but honestly I’d just like to write, she says. And it’s a plea for someone to tell her that it’s okay. You should just write. But hardly a listener will do that. They are so wrapped up in their own fears that they can’t advocate she put herself out there. So she applies for jobs at firms that ask for experience in writing about cars, models, medical technology, marketing solutions, world politics, etc. knowing that she has experience in fiction and in following her heart.
The blank page is not the enemy. It does not create the conflict. It only helps the novelist realize the situation that exists. The world of flowing beauty is considered idealistic and romantic. The world of writing novels and poetry for the joy of creating is the setup of a joke whose punch line involves careers loosely called marketing, journalism, publishing, copywriting,- She has no qualms against these professions, but for the novelist they are a means to nowhere.
But still, she finds courage at every blank page. She finds the willpower to write down whatever she thinks of, whatever is on her mind. She writes stories for the sake of stories. She writes steam of consciousness because she knows it makes her work easier. The reflections of the other people’s doubts that appear before her eyes are merely that- fragmented images of things she sees rather than things that are real. So she writes. She writes often. Writes what her heart wants her to write. Writes to feel the words on her lips.
The novelist does not sit over a blank page because she has nothing to say. She sits over the blank page to say what only she can say.