The Blank Page
This year, I covered hundreds of pages in marks. They sit in front of me in a small stack. Most of it is doodles, sketches, fuckups, false starts, bad copies, good copies, and random lines on paper – the dross that produces the art gold, the sweat and failure beneath the beauty.
On the first page of the newest sketchbook, I took Gary Panter’s advice and wrote the words ‘Painful Little Friend’. It’s only half filled. After it will come ‘Painful Little Friend 2’, then 3, and so on, each one no less painful than the one before.
The blank page, the blinking cursor at the top left corner of the blank screen – they don’t get easier.
Distractions. Just writing this I switched between my web browser and writing window at least 20 times. Fear of the blank page induces a flight or fight response in my brain. It’s usually flight – make coffee, do laundry, feed the cat, read War of Art for the hundredth time, check email or (dooooooom) Facebook.
But the blank page calls me back. Like a lover, or a drug - a promise insistent on itself being fulfilled.
Drawing is both joy and sorrow, because I’ll never be as good as I want to be. I don’t recall having ever approached anything in art or life with quite so much humility. In front of the blank page I’m always a beginner.
Unlike your peers or audience, the blank page doesn’t care about how successful you are, or how much you (think you) suck. It doesn’t want you when you’re finally ready or ‘in the mood’ to create, because you never are. It only wants your foolish determination in the face of uncertainty and self-doubt.
In 2015, I hope the blank page will stay my painful little friend. May it become yours too, if you want it!