Most of the time a blank page is a vessel of infinite capacity, into which I can pour every human trait and emotion - every situation, problem and solution- stir it up and scoop out the basic structure of a story.
The main character almost always comes to me first. Strengths and weaknesses, logic and emotions, habits and faults, must all be learned and revealed. Of course, without conflicts there would be no story to tell. There must be something for the character to overcome or learn.
Whether I am conscious of it or not, there must also be a message. I've only recently learned the most prevalent of mine. It is: "You are not alone."
If there is one thing all people have in common, it's emotion. Everyone has had a broken heart, a darkest day, a victory, and a brilliant flare of joy. Just as we've all experienced moments of love, passion and hope, we've also endured anger, shame and loneliness. My duty is to put together words in ways that emcompass emotions, and wrap them around the reader. I need to show the reader that, though there may not always be a tidy happily-ever-after, there is always someone who understands.
Of course, I want to entertain as well. The basic structure will be enhanced with secondary, and possibly tertiary characters. The setting needs to be more than a loosely painted backdrop. I want to prepare a visual buffet and serve tastes, scents, textures, and sounds. The reader should be able to step into the room with the character and experience the story.
I won't always succeed, but as long as there are blank pages the potential is there.
Sometimes the blank page is a bottomless void into which I launch unanswered pleas for a muse, a spark, or a shred of inspiration. The page taunts me with its emptiness. Thoughts will ricochet around my brain, the million little "trains of thought", (A subtle plug for The Unscheduled Stops? Perhaps, lol.), all running at top speed on non-stop, express trips to oblivion. Tonight was one of those nights.
I should have had this blog posted this morning. The holidays have spun my brain in a vortex and spit me out at an unmarked part of my internal calendar. To simplify, I forgot it was Friday.
So here I was, at ten o'clock at night, trying desperately to come up with something to write for my blog. For an hour I stared at the blank page on the laptop and prayed for something brilliant to escape my brain. All I could wring out of it was this. How did I do?