Blank Page

Following is an excerpt from “Blank Page: It’s Only a Piece of Paper” out of One Memory at a Time by D. G. Fulford, best-selling author and co-founder of The Remembering Site, which makes it easy for anyone, anywhere to write and publish their life story.

“The most valuable advice I’ve ever received wasn’t from my mother. It was from a drawing teacher. I was thirty years old at the time. I was in an evening class, studying life drawing. Life drawing is the class in art school where students sit in a circle surrounding a nude model. They study that person and try to portray her on the page.

One would think that the model in the circle would be the most nervous person in the room. This was not the case, although I’ve seen some nervous ones…

The most nervous people in the room are the art students. They are warriors come to battle with the page. It is the most fearsome of opponents and the single most effective thing that stops a soul from starting.

The blank page stands between the artist and his or her intention.

Here’s the advice, uttered by this teacher, a man I remember nothing about except these words he aimed out into the room that struck a bull’s-eye with me.

‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ he said as he walked around the studio. The floor was hard and you could hear his footsteps. ‘What’s the worse thing that could happen? Here’s the worse thing that could happen: You’ll waste a piece of paper.’

That was the most freeing remark I ever heard.

It said, ‘Begin, and if you don’t like it, then begin again.’ It said the worst thing that could happen was not so bad at all.

It didn’t say a word about the best thing.”

***

Many times I’ve stared down that fearsome opponent — the blank page. Or worse yet, I’ve avoided going near it. What better advice is there than to take up my instrument and confront it, head on, with abandon? To summon my strength, to let myself go, to lay down the words. Most of the time, something evolves; there’s a peace accord between head and page. If it doesn’t, I can always wad that paper up in a tight ball and toss it across the room. I don’t have a wastebasket in my office. If I need to, I just cover the floor with papers in all stages of disposal — flat, wadded, twisted, wrinkled. Then I collect them, take them all downstairs, and throw them away. I suppose that’s a strategy, too.

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