Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
“The blank page in the mind has to be filled before you have the courage to face the actual blank page.” — Jonathon Franzen
The Magic of the Blank Page: Rewriting My Way Into My Story
For most writers, crafting a story requires multiple rewrites.
Memoir writing is a journey of discovery as the story slowly reveals itself.
After twenty years of writing the stories of my life and feeling the passion to tell the story of the simultaneous journey through my son’s addiction and my own cancer diagnosis, I submitted my 50,000 word manuscript for professional editing. I had taken it as far as I could on my own, including through a round of eight beta readers, and knew there were flaws in the story structure.
When I received my first round of professional edits, there were so many comments and suggestions that I decided to start over.
I am once again facing the blank page by choice.
Staring at a blank page can feel like an ominous task. But, instead, it feels like a jumpstart to a new beginning for my story. I realized that I was not clear on the premise of my story and was spinning my wheels trying to fix it.
Restarting with a blank page has helped me to rewrite my way into my story.
It has forced me to rethink the following questions:
*What is my purpose in writing this story?
*What slice of my life will be the focus?
*How will I tell my story?
*Where will I enter into my story?
*What are the stakes?
*Whom will I offend in the process of writing my truth?
*How will I weave all the strands together?
*Where will the story end?
*What will the overriding theme be–the takeaway?
Of course, I already know that often times the answers to these questions can only be revealed through the writing.
I also know from writing my first memoir Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, that what I start out writing may not be what I end up with.
Getting those stories out of my head and onto the page has given me a jumpstart.
Why the Blank Page Has Been Magic For Me:
- Starting over fresh has enabled me to focus on the threads /themes that hold my story together.
- Now that I’m more clear on these themes, I can go deeper into the narrative, concentrating on the details that matter.
- Starting fresh has sparked my creative energies and new ideas are flowing faster than I can write them down. Scenes I had forgotten are now swirling in my mind, like a faucet that has been turned on and keeps flowing.
- As I face the many edits, I feel more confident which ones to accept and which ones to disregard as I stay true to my voice.
- Facing the blank page does not mean starting from scratch. The story is already there, in my mind, waiting to reveal itself to me.
And so I keep digging, deeper and deeper with each rewrite. I am writing the scenes that flash through my brain and take me back to those the moments where time stood still and hope seemed distant, taking time to reflect on the meaning of the incident as the wiser narrator; to offer takeaways that will benefit my reader.
I hope you enjoy this five-minute You Tube video “8 Writers on Facing the Blank Page” :
How about you? What has your experience been with facing a blank page? Is it one of dread or inspiration? Do you have any tips to share?
I’d love to hear from you . Please join in the conversation below~
“Why We Read and Write Memoir by Nancy Julien Kopp”
Nancy has been published in 18 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, several other anthologies, newspapers, magazines and e-zines. Her writing includes award winning fiction for children, creative nonfiction, poetry, travel and personal essays.
January 2018 Newsletter: Updates, Memoir Musings, Max Moments:
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