by Doug Jackson
“Audacity,” Winston Churchill exhorted amateur painters, “is the only ticket.” The same thing may be said to budding writers. The blank page simultaneously sneers, fears, and hopes. That combination can freeze the hand a half-inch from its surface. At this season we face the biggest blank page of all, three hundred and sixty five unwritten squares of opportunity.
Every artist knows the terror that seizes George Orwell’s Winston Smith as he holds his ink-laden nib above the creamy paper of the blank book he hides in his apartment: “He dipped the pen into the ink and then faltered for just a second. A tremor had gone through his bowels. To mark the paper was the decisive act.” And every artist knows the only cure: “Suddenly he began writing in sheer panic, only imperfectly aware of what he was setting down. His small but childish handwriting straggled up and down the page, shedding first its capital letters and finally even its full stops.”
Even those who do not consider themselves writers or sculptors or painters, even they, if they are not dull blocks of meat, know this terror. Oscar Wilde hit home when he observed, “I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.” So as we all hesitate between twin terrors at the onset of the next chapter of this life we make, I offer a brief prayer for us all.
A Prayer to Our Lady of Perfected Composition
The blank page taunts, but also hopes:
What will my first stroke be?
Who bore the Word remaining fresh,
Our Lady, pray for me.
Doug Jackson is a preacher/professor/poet who after a quarter-century in the pastorate now teaches spiritual formation, pastoral ministry, and Greek for the Logsdon Seminary program at the South Texas School of Christian Studies in Corpus Christi. His collection of poetry, Nothing There is Not More, is available from Finishing Line Press.