A Sheet of White

A Sheet of White (Written February 27, 2014)

Oh the possibilities
Of an empty sheet of white!
More dreams were given life there
Than were ever dreamt at night.


Anybody who is any sort of artist knows exactly what that poem means. How many millions of dreams have taken shape on a blank sheet of paper? I was sitting in on this music class on Monday when their teacher asked, “Do you know how every musician is exactly the same as Mozart? Did you know that you are the same too? Do you know how?” Obviously, everybody shook their heads, minus a few sarcastic, “The music!” sort of answers. Then he says, “It’s the paper. It all starts on a blank sheet of paper. Even for you.” He went on to ask about why, given that they all start from the same place, Mozart is so much better than so many others. But anywho.

We all start at the same place: with something we need to get out of our heads. And the only way to do that is to put it on paper. Or blogpost, as the case may be. =P What do you see when you look at a blank sheet of paper? I see a story about a little boy who goes to war to find his dad, and I also see a song about regretting not taking an adventure, and also a picture of mountains against the sun. I see a gate opening, I see a welcome mat laid out just for me. I see a connection, a precious tether between me and everybody else. For, after all, as Leo Rosten so correctly said,

“A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved.”

And he was definitely right.

So, when I look at a blank sheet of paper I see a million different possibilities. What do you see?

On the subject of that quote! Anybody ever heard of the Decemberists? I love them. One of my favorite bands. They have this song called Engine Driver that always makes me think of that quote I just gave. The song goes through all these different verses about all the different things the singer is. An engine driver, a country lineman, a money lender- a writer of fiction. The chorus goes, “I am a writer, writer of fictions, I am the heart that you call home, and I’ve written pages upon pages trying to rid you from my bones.” I don’t know what the song is actually about, but to me it has always seemed that this is an artist, a writer, singing about the stories in his head. He is the writer of fiction. His heart is the fiction’s home. And he writes because he just has to get it out. And that is most certainly a feeling that I understand. To quote Leo Rosten yet again, “The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it.”


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