A blank page.
If you are a writer, these words are likely to fill your mind with an odd mix of dread and excitement. On some days, it’s the bane of your existence, on others it’s what gives your existence meaning. But it’s never ever just a page.
Where others see a piece of paper or a white screen you see a scorching desert — or the bone-chilling white emptiness of the Arctic cold — to be crossed. Worse, to be crossed alone.
Where others see the simple act of picking up a pen or touching a keyboard, you see the moment of making the first step onto a long, shaky bridge without guardrails that spans over a bottomless canyon and disappears into a thick grey fog ahead.
Where others see words appearing on a page, you see steps taken across a madly rushing stream of water that can sweep you off your feet at any moment and tumble you down its path toward a roaring waterfall.
You don’t feel ready. If anything, you feel miserably unprepared for the journey ahead. Forget the journey — you feel utterly unequipped for taking the first step.
You did feel ready — until you faced that page. All the books you had read, all the stories you had heard — they had filled you with a burning desire to tell your own stories. They filled you with a strong belief that the visions of the people and worlds you had in your imagination were worth conveying to everyone. You were confident. You were certain.
Now that confidence is gone as if it had never existed. As you face the void of the uncharted territory in front of you, you can’t even recall why you were so certain you could write. Worse, you can’t recall why you wanted to write in the first place. The whole idea of filling that page with words — any words — feels almost ridiculous. Whatever impulse brought you to this moment, it had to be a delusion. This page is blank for a reason and it should remain blank. Maybe someone one day will cover it with words. But not you. Not now. Because what can you possibly say that would be worth reading?
And then you recall. Not the books that inspired you. Not the readers who one day may hold your book in their hands. You recall what brought you to this moment. To this blank page.
You recall your story.
The world it’s happening in. The people inhabiting that world. Their worries and challenges, ups and downs, sorrows and victories. You hear the sounds of their voices. You see their faces. You understand their journeys. They are real. Just to you, but real. And you are their only way to our world.
Suddenly, the blank page in front of you is no longer a scorching desert. No longer a cold Arctic void with a cruel icy wind whistling across its soulless surface. No longer a shaky bridge to nowhere.
The page is now a portal. A portal to a world that you only can see. And you are the only person who can open it. And your first sentence to appear on that page is your key.
You realize suddenly that no one will ever see that world unless you open the portal, step through it, and with the magic of your words start bringing to life all the visions only you can see. Creation is never easy. It’s not even supposed to be easy. But it’s worth it’s every moment and every effort. Because no one can create what you can create.
And you write the first sentence. The page is no longer blank, and somehow the journey no longer seems intimidating. Because now you know that it doesn’t matter how masterful your first sentence is. No one cares about the shape of the key. No one even cares about the door.
The only thing that matters is what’s behind it.