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Creative Nonfiction

Such a complex and mind boggling concept as infinity can be represented by something as simple as a blank page. You don’t need fancy equations that don’t include a single number in them, you don’t need to gaze up at the stars and ponder the meaning of life, neither do you have to go on a psychedelic trip to experience infinity. You can do so by simply looking at a blank page, in the comfort of your home, while sipping coffee from a mug.

All that’s really required is a reframe of perception. Because what else is a blank page, but infinite potential? What else is that white expanse of daunting nothingness, but a great staging ground for an endless possibility of creation? The void is not always black, nor is it always far away, deep and mysterious. Sometimes it’s plain white and glaring back at you, a few inches from your nose, waiting to see if you’ll crack.

The blank page is the most powerful thing that a writer (or any other creative individual, for that matter) can ever hope to tackle. It is pure freedom, a limitless ocean, an imaginarium sandbox. It is purer than a virgin which did not yet meet her first love, purer than a newborn’s smile, purer than a rain-washed sky. It hasn’t yet been stained by ideas and concepts, meanings and interpretations. Well, save for a few dust particles, but that’s just your dirty screen. 

The blank page exists as pure potential, awaiting the first decision to be made, the first stroke of a pen or press of a key. It awaits the touch of god to spark in creation a whole new universe. Like a big bang erupting in a cosmic explosion of stars and galaxies, a story is born with the first letter put on that blank page. The first mark. The first seed. The beginning of it all.

When filling that blank page, you get to play god. The power of creation is at your full disposal and you can do anything with it. For that time that you spend in front of the blank page, you are omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, creating something out of nothing. Framing a new reality, on a humble blank page.

Such power. Such responsibility. No wonder we shudder before it, we dread even looking at it. It haunts us in our dreams, tormenting us with the demand to be filled. And a fear of leaving it empty. For the freedom and the potential of it is overwhelming to the point of awe-inspiring terror; we shut off, black out. We block.

It is too much. It is not easy to play god, when one is a mere mortal.

But then again, if it were too much for a mortal to handle, how come there are so many great stories out there? So much amazing art? So many novels, movies, sculptures, paintings, songs? So many genius innovations, business ideas, new solutions, philosophies? Surely, if it were too much, there would be none of those, such power of creation reserved only for nature and for ‘the divine’.

And even then, man is a part of nature, not separate from it. So it is not only a great privilege, that we can stare down at the blank page and fill it with creation, it is a duty. Not a luxury, but a need, a necessity

Everyone has a blank page in their life that they face and for some it is literal. For writers it’s putting words down. For a businessman it’s building up his brand. For a scientist it’s observation of a certain aspect of reality, studying it. For all humans, it’s living more consciously and being more authentic in their attitude towards life.

The humble blank page never judges or criticizes what you put onto it. It never blames you for not putting anything there at all. It patiently waits for your decisions and accepts them without any questioning. You might say that, in a way, it shows you unconditional love. It accepts and embraces you fully. No matter if you’re on a roll, cranking out chapter after chapter, sculpting your masterpiece magnum opus of the next bestseller novel, wielding your proverbial pen like Michelangelo wielded his hammer and chisel, or if you’re dragging your hungover fingers over the keyboard, drunk and weary with procrastination, fatigue and depression, feeling like a rotting corpse of a whale, beached on the island of insanity. In both cases, the blank page looks back at you with an indifferent gaze. It is you who thinks of that gaze as either loving, or loathing.

So, how does one handle infinity? 

In a way, one doesn’t. In a way, infinity is best left infinite and to just observe it’s endless beauty. But since we are human beings with desires, needs and, well, bills to pay, we need to make a call. As writers, and as human beings, we can stare at infinity through a telescope or through a DMT induced trip, but when it comes to the blank page on our computer screen, we need to assume responsibility. We need to collapse that infinite potential in the form of a finite creation, a mozaik of individual letters, a creature of words and chapters - a story. We need to give it a shape, a form, a voice. We need to give it life

And we need to be very assertive and determined with it, because with every single word we put down we make a decision that favors that precise word over a million others. In a way, we are carving out infinity, discarding it, and leaving behind only one thing. One word at a time.

A simple sentence as “John drove to the cinema” already frames a whole reality of the story. John is a male name. A human name. Makes us wonder who this man is? What’s his last name? How old is he?

A cinema is a modern invention, a building where things called ‘movies’ are played. The sentence frames movies. It frames the story in a reality that we are familiar with; 20th or 21st century, Earth. What movie is John going to watch? What year is this exactly? 

He ‘drove’ frames action and implies a desire or motivation for that action. It also implies John having a driver’s licence and owning a car, perhaps. Why did he go there? Is he going to watch a movie? Perhaps he works there? 

As many questions as appear, the sentence answers to millions more of them, without them ever being posed. If the character’s name is John, then it isn’t Jack. Or Jane, or Herodontez Mancera Santiago de Sofia. If he drove to the cinema, then this is probably not happening in the stone age, or in the middle ages or before the Earth was even formed. The words frame the blank page’s potential and collapse its infinity into a very specific form - as simple as it might seem.

With the words I’m writing here, I could have framed a story about pirates getting drunk and pillaging merchant ships, while avoiding the royal navy. If I added a Kraken or two I could make it a fantasy or folklore. Or I could write about humanity discovering a civilization hidden on the rings of Saturn and make it a sci-fi. If I was any good at piano playing, I could write ‘Ten things I learned by playing the piano for 10 years’ and make it a blog post.

Instead of all those, plus many more, I decided to write about a blank page. Every word collapses that infinity into this precise story, or perhaps, this rambling of mine.

Dylan Thomas wrote; “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Stephen King wrote; “Do not approach the blank page lightly.” These two quotes have a lot in common, in fact; for writers, at least to me, they mean the same.

Do not think and expect it to be easy. Worthwhile things seldomly are.

Do not expect the blank page to do the work for you. It is merely a canvas, and you are the painter.

Do not wait for inspiration to strike. It’s easy to write a masterpiece when you’re feeling inspired. Enjoy that fleeting muse of divinity, but never rely and depend on it.

Do not get dismayed by others; listen to their advice, if they can give a solid one, but take everything with a grain of salt. Ultimately it is you who are the creator and it is your job, not theirs, to create your art.

Do not listen to your mind, it is not your friend. Ideas do not come from the mind, only fear, worry and self-defeat do. Think with self-esteem if you can, if not, ignore your thoughts entirely.

Do not quit. Never, ever, let the blank page slip your grasp, be blown by the wind and carried away for decades, until never found again, or perhaps recovered much later, evoking mountains of regret. If it is your dream and desire to write, then make a decision about it. And stick with it.

Do not say you’re going to write. Do it. Do not write that you’re going to write. Do it. Do not think and plan that ‘one day, you’re going to write a book’. Do it. Do it now.

And if you’re not a writer, then replace ‘writing’ with whatever life calling of choice that your heart longs for, and apply the same rules. The blank page is universal. It is the work that we all know we should be doing in the back of our minds, yet we do not do it. Because facing the blank page is hard, and watching YouTube is easy.

But it means the difference between smiling with inner fulfilment and heartwarming joy when looking at something you created, and smiling with sarcasm and quiet desperation to a cat video.

So what’s your blank page?


May 20, 2020 20:31

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20 comments

Chloe-Ly Grimont
07:10 May 25, 2020

Thank you. Thank you for putting into writing the torment and thrills of the daunting 'blank page'. You've done an amazing job of it, capturing the many different aspects which shape it, and I felt each of those resonate within me. It's wonderful to know we aren't alone feeling this way! I hope to see more of your stories, keep on facing that blank page of yours :)

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Harken Void
08:19 May 25, 2020

You're welcome Chloe! It was a pure joy writing it. Hehe, here's a spoiler about human feelings; you're never the only one having them ;) Thank you for the encouragement!

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Chloe-Ly Grimont
13:11 May 25, 2020

Haha, you're welcome!

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14:34 May 21, 2020

You are an amazing writer! I hope I can see more of your writing! It would also be cool is you check out my writing too! Keep writing, and stay safe!!! I loved it!-Avery.

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Harken Void
18:24 May 21, 2020

Thank you Avery! Well, I hope next week's prompts will be better, these ones felt a big vague to me. But I shall heed that advice to keep writing! Stay safe! See you in the coments of your story!

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18:33 May 21, 2020

I agree! I can't wait for the new prompts! I love your stories this is why I followed you! See you in the comments too!

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Harken Void
18:57 May 21, 2020

I'm glad you like them! It means I'm doing something right, hehe. I read one of yours and also liked it, if I'll have the time I'll check more of them. Made of Fear was intriguing :)

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19:21 May 21, 2020

Your welcome, hey thanks for reading my stories!

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A. Y. R
07:34 May 21, 2020

This is so inspirational! You've really expanded my perspectives of infinity! I love how your also expanded this beyond just writers to everyone to find their calling! And that ending just gave me chils!

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A. Y. R
07:35 May 21, 2020

I just love all your stories! They're either worlds I can just delve myself into for a perfect form of escape or a huge eye opener! I have to ask, how do you come up with so many epic ideas and have the time to write them all down?

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Harken Void
08:17 May 21, 2020

Thank you very much, it is such a humbling feeling knowing that others enjoy my writing. It motivates me to do more of it and better! I like your stories too. I think we have a similar taste and even similar preference for what to write about. I think that's very cool :) As for your question, a proper answer would probably require a book of its own, haha. The short version would be; I've decided to make writing my calling.

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Harken Void
08:11 May 21, 2020

Haha happy to help there ;) It was intended to give all writers (well, all PEOPLE) a little kick in hte butt, including myself. I'm guilty of 'saying' I'm gonna write a book for a long time now...

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A. Y. R
09:21 May 21, 2020

Honestly I would love nothing more than to have a full on conservation with you at some point, if you'd be up for it? I feel as if he have much to discuss, so many ideas to share and so many unknowns to explore!

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Harken Void
10:01 May 21, 2020

Actually that would be pretty interesting! I'm up for meeting new people. Shall we move on to facebook? If you'd like to keep A. y. R. a secret, search for 'Kevin Žagar' and add me. Harken Void is my pen name.

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A. Y. R
10:50 May 21, 2020

Yep that's sent! A and R are the initials of my first and last name, and I like to remain a mystery so that's all I shall reveal...

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Harken Void
11:19 May 21, 2020

I got it.

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Tvisha Yerra
03:26 May 21, 2020

Definitely something to think about. Love the last line! Was this supposed to be submitted under the question prompt or...?

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Harken Void
08:21 May 21, 2020

Yes, you're right there, it was supposed to go under the question prompt, but I've already submitted another story under that prompt and didn't know you can only submit one at a time. So I picked the next one that made sense to me (revealing the secret of writing, I guess).

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Katy S.
21:56 May 20, 2020

Wow! This IS a masterpiece. I'm glad you tackled the blank page. I especially loved these lines, " You don’t need fancy equations that don’t include a single number in them, ", "drunk and weary with procrastination, fatigue and depression, feeling like a rotting corpse of a whale, beached on the island of insanity. ", "because with every single word we put down we make a decision that favors that precise word over a million others." Thank you for the amazing read!

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Harken Void
22:11 May 20, 2020

Just some thoughts on how I feel about and look at writing (or any other life endeavor, be it artistic or otherwise). I wanted to put that out there, both as a reminder to myself and hopefuly as inspiration for others. I'm very happy to see that you found it stimulating :)

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