As I sit with pen in hand, ready to face the stark, white reality of the empty page, I find myself consumed with thoughts that pull me away from my task. “Am I writing out of passion?” I wonder, “or am I writing to fill a need?”
The question brings instantaneous guilt. It also sends my mind off in a thousand different directions.
I can’t help but think of Laura Ingalls Wilder in her prairie home, eyes darting across the rough pages as her crude pen scribbles and scratches, and I feel like a traitor. My fingers tiptoe across near-silent keys as I write.
My mind roams to Thoreau, strolling in blissful silence through the sanctuary of his wilderness home—breathing in, giving out—and I realize that I haven’t even stepped outside to check the mail yet today.
I drift to Louisa May Alcott, that adventurous soul, who dared to imagine that her ink-stained hands could push open doors in a man’s world, and I glance down at my finely manicured nails, completely clean, yet completely stained with guilt.
My mind gravitates toward George Orwell, who sought to change his world by writing something so bold, so unique that readers for generations to come would study the complexities of its simplicity, and I am forced to admit that I am out of touch with the world around me.
I imagine Shakespeare acting out his plays in his head as he scribbles, scribbles, scribbles away. Enter Puck, Stage Left. Enter Hermia, Stage Right. I recognize that my own characters haven’t spoken to me in quite some time.
I recall the story of Emily Dickinson, so withdrawn, so melancholy, and yet so full of verse that she would flip the world of poetry up on its ear, and I realize that I’ve never graduated beyond the simplest of poetic forms.
I ponder the writings of Herman Melville, a man tormented by allegorical beast, tossing and turning on the sea of life, and must admit that I haven’t used an educated adjective in days.
I wonder at the imagination of a Franz Kafka, in whose clever characters I often find myself hidden, and recognize that my creative juices are in much need of a spin around the juicer.
It is in these moments, as the paper moves from stark white to blur, that I thank God for placing the desire to write in me. Guilt shifts. Reality convenes. I am a writer. I am passionate. I am fanning the flame. I am so grateful to be counted among those who, in touching pen to paper, hope to impact their world.
My fingers begin to dance across the keys, silent no more. The race has begun. Yes, others have run that race before me. They have cast a shimmer of light on the road that I now travel. For that, I am forever grateful. But there is plenty of road ahead for one like me.
When you see a blank piece of paper, what do you feel compelled to do?
Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna. She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over one hundred books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more. She particularly enjoys writing light-hearted, comedic tales because she enjoys making readers laugh. In addition, she enjoys public speaking and mentoring young writers.
Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. Her tagline, “Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!” sums up her take on life.
She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all. Learn more about Janice.
Thanks for joining us today, Janice!