“So often is the virgin sheet of paper more real than what one has to say, and so often one regrets having marred it.” ~Harold Acton, from Memoirs of an Aesthete
You know that great feeling you get when you have a brand new, never before used notebook in your hands, with crisp pages and endless opportunities? You take a moment, you flip through the pages with your thumb and breathe in the scent of its newness, and think to yourself: what words will I use to fill these lines? They better be good one, inspired one, worthy ones…
I think that every time I have a new notebook, be it one of the cheap little ones I do most of my writing in to some more of the fancier ones with pretty covers or leather bound journals or the variety of other types of writing apparatus out there. I’m a big fan of writing everything by hand (“analog,” as my friend Don put it yesterday when I was discussing this with him); I just don’t feel the same inspiration at a computer, and, besides, my little notebooks are all so much more portable and allow me to write wherever I am.
But I realize that I have so many untouched notebooks in my room, mostly the more expensive and pretty ones, that are just sitting there, empty, because I’m afraid to venture out into them, to mar their current perfection of possibility with words that are unworthy. I want to know for sure, before I start to destroy them with the pen, that what I’m writing is worth it. And, because I rarely feel anything I write is truly worth it, they will likely remain untouched and virginal their entire life.
Acton’s quote reflects this feeling, but I realize as I contemplate it, that it also reflects cowardice. Go ahead; write those first words on that perfect piece of paper. Marry that virginal sheet, but commit to it, just as one must commit to a husband and wife. And then whatever you create will be real, it will be worthy, it will take that virginal sheet from a blank page to a fully realized love.