The Fear of 400 Blank Pages

Every creative knows ‘The fear of the blank page’.  Whether you’re a writer, a painter, a sketch artist, a composer—or anyone of the countless creatives—you will know how intimidating a blank canvas can be.

I know this fear very well – when there is something bubbling up and expelling it is non-negotiable.  But how, exactly?  How does one begin?  I have begun hundreds of times.  And if I had a completion for every time I have begun, I would have a larger output of novels than Dame Barbara Cartland.  (Who managed in her century on earth over 700 published works, including 23 novels in a single year!).  But sadly, the beginnings far outweigh the completions, the bulk of everything I’ve ever done left abandoned and forgotten.

And now, as the summer slow-down awaits, I see the blank page before me again, and it intimidates the hell out of me.  But this time, it is different.  I have written ‘the end’ after 400-odd pages of prose which will become my next novel, the follow-up of Discovering Leigh.  And for the last few months, I’ve intentionally let it go, to sit away hidden on a hard drive and never looked at again.  So that like a good curry it can sit and draw flavour.

I hope to god it has.

The working title of this book was ‘Developing Giulia’, but it now been changed to ‘Defining Giulia’, which I think is more apt, and makes it sound less than a programming language.  But now, on a hot summer’s day in November, Giulia is calling from where I buried her deep in the dungeons of my hard drive.  She’s knocking from the inside of my screen, reminding me that she’s still here, still simmering just beneath the surface of my consciousness.  And I know that I have to go get her, dust her off, reread her, and spend many weeks on the rewrite, starting again at a blank page:  Page one, chapter one, and a blinking cursor named Giulia that is scarier than my nightmares.

So if I seem a bit miffy and distracted until February or so, it is because there is an ink-smeared monster on my desktop, demanding to be fed.

And her appetite is blood.