My heart begins to race as I stare at the white screen. It’s dark outside and I’ve avoided the moment long enough. I save the document after typing and deleting two, maybe four words. The screens stays white while I roll my neck and turn on the pounding music that drowns out my racing heart. Slowly, as the churning, tripping, hurtling words of others seep into my bones, I begin to make sense of my own.
When I begin papers or blog posts or fictional pieces, it’s always the white screen that gets me. That fresh-snow od a sheet of paper or document. Something that beautiful is impossble to tarnish with something unworthy, and the feat of letting the dancing, swirling in my head leak onto the paper is heart-wrenching and nail-biting.
What always changes me is the deadline. I like deadlines. I thirve under the heavy blanket of a firm hand of things to be to be done. It’s crucial as a reporter and as an academic. The deadline is the reason to tarnish the fresh snow with patches of yellow – there is no choice.
If I’m lucky enough, by the time I’m done, my piece looks better than if a dog had done it, and instead resembles more of a snow cone, tall and proud and ready to be enjoyed.
The worst of my “picnic-table crises” was in October of my ninth grade year. I was participating in a writing competition and the deadline was pressing down on me like sumo wrestler. I hadn’t even began to begin. So I turned on Christmas music. And the characters danced to it. They understood the mist of chaos. Three weeks later I had 41 pages of content to pair down to a readable entry.
For me, structure is not first achieved through outlines, but music. The music organzes my own thoughts through its rippling chaos. It makes sense of the unsensable. I don’t know why that it is that music is often my guide to unlocking my words from behind the gate of fear that I hold them behind. But it is.
Because the truth is, I’m never afraid to “tarnish” the paper, but I am afraid to tarnish myself. I’m afraid to write mediocrity and failure. Somehow, the structure of the words of others allow me to push beyond my fear and let my creative engine drive.
When I think ahout the Literacy Narrative, I know that the structure will come simply. I will have outlines of outlines until I see the pattern. I don’t know yet if that pattern will be chronological or some other pattern yet identified. I do know that when the words are ready to come, I will be ready to receive them.