Being Quarantined of Blank Pages 

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A blank page is one of my biggest fears.

A blank page is so vast. There are so many opportunities, so many ways you can skew this page and make it your own. It’s terrifying. When I look at blank pages when I look at ‘this’ blank page where I am typing this article now, I do not see opportunity, I see fear.

A blank page is like a large ocean; some find it freeing and others shiver at the thought of it.

To me, a blank page is the same as a Siren. Sirens are beautiful, mermaid-like creatures of beauty and elegance. They lure you in with their one-of-a-kind singing and beauty, and then they kill you. The only way not to become entranced by a Siren is to stay away from it in general and do not travel the sea or avoid routes known to have Sirens around that area. Some were brave enough to venture, but many were not. I believe a blank page to be the modern-day Siren, and because I value my life, I’d avoid a blank page of paper like it wants to kill me. 

Truthfully, I find it funny, my fear of the unknown. A simple page of the paper, one with no words or instructions can cause such a deep-rooted fear in me, and I find that ironic at the least.

But it’s not just the paper that brings a large, ugly pit in my stomach, but the fear of what if that truly pushes me over the edge.

A blank page fears me, as a creator of something on it, in many different ways. What if it’s not good? What if this whole thing is worded in a truly hideous manner that makes me want to turn myself inside out and hide in my room. What if I redo the five pages of writing just to eventually give up because none of my writing will ever quench my thirst for a truly complex piece that is not just good but leaves an impact on you. What if I spend days, weeks, perfecting a piece I was truly excited to write, just to realize it’s worse than something I wrote in an hour for a school assignment? What if I write something full of passion, pride and vigor just for it to go unnoticed because there is someone better than me, and they want to focus on that. That one’s the most discouraging one.

No matter how good I become, there is always someone better than me.

It’s funny, reading over this. It sounds like I’m a wise old man, one who has seen wars and droughts and human atrocities, but I haven’t. I am, at the end of the day, just a thirteen-year-old. A thirteen-year-old with minimal experience in any type of creative work, a thirteen-year-old who hangs out with her friends every day, a thirteen-year-old who lives life as she should, who lives her life as a child.

But, saying my age doesn’t actually help my fear of uselessness, so it feels useless to mention it. Yes, I am a thirteen-year-old, but that doesn’t change anything. Age does not justify or invalidate emotions, so I won’t let it. I won’t let myself feel different things from external factors, my emotions are my emotions because they are. Not because of my age, gender, race, or any other factors.

Sometimes emotions scare me. They can be expressed, hidden, faked and even deceived. You can convince yourself of emotions you don’t even feel, or be so drained that you feel no emotion at all. Now, my knowledge of others’ emotions is a surface-level understanding, but I believe I understand my own emotions to a depth that I can’t even comprehend. There aren’t words I can put to these utterly complex feelings and that frustrates me because words are all I’ve ever known. 

I like words. I do. I find them fascinating, like a bridge from thought to communication. Without words, we’d have to rely on expressions and bodily movements, and that would be much harder. I like looking at words, but not really reading. Well, I do love reading, but I just like looking at words. I don’t need to understand the word, I don’t need to use the word. I just look at it. Big words, small words, until I’ve seen it so many times it looks obscure and like what it truly is, just random letters.

So, when I saw the word ‘Quarantine’, I liked it. I still do like it. Quarantine really does just feel like a jumble of letters, more than other words do. I like that it has a Q in it, because not many everyday words have q’s in them, and the letter q is a fun one to say. I thought of it as just another pretty word, that was nice to look at and wouldn’t matter in a month or two. But then I kept seeing it and experiencing it, and I realized, even if the word Quarantine is beautiful, the experience is not.

Canada went into quarantine for the first time in March 2020. During that time, I was in grade six and was eleven years old. I had two friends, but we didn’t talk out of school very often. We hung out, just never texted. I liked my teacher, he didn’t give us much homework and was generally lenient with due dates and such.

My classmates were okay, but I wasn’t close with anyone. Basically, when I wasn’t at school, I was alone. I mean, I knew this already, but quarantine really nailed it into me. I liked the quiet of not having anyone around, though, and I thought that was enough to sustain myself for the months to come. But then the quiet started talking to me, or, I started talking to the quiet.

Next, I went to tv shows and movies. I like tv, especially long tv. It holds my attention and takes my mind off of whatever was bothering me. So, for that, I was grateful.

In addition, I like movies. I like critiquing films, analyzing them, or just watching them for fun. Films are fun. And this did, in its defense, keep me entertained for a couple of months. I’d watch a new show every day, filling in the void of loneliness that was left there from being alone.

I like being alone, don’t get me wrong, but I’d rather not be alone for what felt like the rest of my life. I liked the movies, I liked the tv characters, I liked diverting my attention from myself. But then, the tv characters started acting like me and doing things I knew I would, and I didn’t like that. I didn’t like how the characters would make bad decisions that I knew I would also make, if in that situation. So, instead of confronting my problems, I went for a new thing to fill the void in my heart, which only seemed to be growing larger by the days. 

Next, I went to writing. And boy, did I write. It wasn’t perfect, half of the time it wasn’t even good, but I liked the distraction. Writing is like an indirect way of confronting how I feel, by projecting it onto characters or twisting it into long poems laced with metaphors, and I liked that.

For once, I had control over what words were telling me. I liked reading, too. I read over some of my old books, and read the previews of new ones on Google. I never checked out a library book, but I tried to find the beauty of writing in other ways. I would compare my writing to writing made by professionals, people decades older than me, and try to change my style to fit theirs.

When trying to improve my writing, I lost what made it good in the first place. I tried writing like Orwell, or Wilde, or Dickens, or even Tolstoy and would get mad at myself when it still didn’t sound good.

No matter what I did, my writing never sounded as good as the people I was writing off of. No matter what I did, the writing would never sound like me. And if there is no me, what’s the point? So, instead of experimenting more, I gave up. I gave up on writing, I gave up on inspiration, I gave up on creativity, and I gave up on myself.

Luckily, right after this meltdown of mine, I found a friend, and I no longer needed to fill a void in my heart, because I felt it dissipate by itself.

I reached out to people I hadn’t talked to in months, and I forgot about writing as a whole. Whenever I look at a blank page now, I don’t see the passion I once had or the famous writers as of who I compared myself to, but I see both fear and nothingness. I see nothingness because I forced my practice out of me, and I see fear because I wholeheartedly believe it will happen again.

So, when faced with a blank page, just as when faced with a Siren, I turn back and walk away, from fear that it will kill me.

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Dipika Adhikari
2 years ago

This was a good read. Can relate with most of the things you’ve mentioned.such a good writer for a age like 13.looking forward to read more from you!👏

Last edited 2 years ago by Dipika Adhikari
2 years ago

Good one Moxie. Keep it up and good luck.

2 years ago