An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

16 December 2011

Blank page

Because I am a writer, the image of a blank page always incites so many mixed emotions in me. Most of the time I feel such awe that I am being given the privilege of filling up with my own words something so profound. Sometimes I feel guilt for not writing more often, an indication that I’m not appreciating that writer’s privilege the way I should. At times it’s frustration I feel, because that blank page remains blank for days on end, and I feel quite useless, not very much like a writer. The rest of the time it’s a strange combination of wonderment, annoyance, fondness, craving, and slight panic.

I’ve always felt that a blank page to writers is like a mountain to mountaineers (who climb a mountain just because it’s there), but some days I’m like a mountaineer on steroids. I write words on a blank page not only because the blank page is there. Sometimes, even where there is no more blank page, I create new ones to write in, pulling out sheet after sheet of paper from my stash, typewriting prose in duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate, just to end up with something thick, and which I can edit in two, three, four different versions. Sometimes I spend hours -- and use up a lot of pencils, one after the other in quick succession -- writing about anything that comes to mind: memories of old conversations, old rooms, old voices, colors that have no name but which I can envision in my mind, a line to a song that leads to a line in a story that leads to a line in a movie that leads to a line I heard when I was a child that leads to a line from someone’s blog.

Once I remember staying up all night just trying to describe the voice of someone I heard talking in a dream I had years before. Recently, I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered vividly the dream I just had, and wrote it down, in full detail, until the sun came up and my alarm went off.

I found writing this way helpful, cathartic, therapeutic. At times it’s difficult to start writing, but once the first few words are laid down on the page, the rest flows easily afterwards. And so most of my life is filled with the frenzy of taking things down, making notes, journaling, grasping at the last remaining details of a dream and writing them down, and even debating with myself on certain difficult life decisions that I had to make, seeing my possible future in the lines of fountain pen ink that are absorbed slowly by the paper, like an acceptance, a form of consent, an assurance that what I write down is most likely what will be.

All these notes have since been collected and bound, and are now at 36 volumes (with the first 12 composed of 12 inch thick stacks of onion skin paper, the more recent ones in large Moleskines), dating back from when I was 15 years old. I used to go back to them from time to time, to read through some entries from a time in my life when I was feeling particularly happy, or particularly sad, or particularly confused. But just last year, I sealed them all up in boxes, and had them stored in a fireproof and waterproof safe. I have decided not to go through them again within the next twenty years or so, and just keep on writing and writing my life down as I go, without looking back.

Because I don’t need to. I have the most important memories stored in my heart, and now, in some ways, I am a blank page. I am starting life again. I can be anyone I want to be.


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