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Value from the Void

Text by: Sue Peterson, Author of The Mourning Run

A blank page. One of the most intimidating—yet enticing—sights a writer encounters. It calls to you, challenging your ideas; then, when you finally succumb to its powers, it romances you like a fickle mistress: affectionate one day, indifferent the next.

Creative juice runs hot through mankind's veins; we're beings that yearn to create something of value from the void. Heeding the pull of inspiration is the fire that brings light to the soul. Simply put: we just can't help ourselves.

As Polite Society begins its journey, and regularly passes literature through its hands for review, it might be of worth to begin the journey from the starting gate known as the blank page. To reflect on the drive, and madness, that precedes the book.

For me, striving to be a writer has required the formula of 25% ideas, 25% talent, and 50% confidence. To have the nerve to put my thoughts on paper, and dare to believe that someone would actually be interested in reading them, has been a long journey for me. And still, I doubt the positive feedback that has accompanied some of my attempts.

Walter Smith stated, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open up a vein." Those who have the courage to label themselves "writer" know how true that phrase is. You yield to the idea that's been
© Amelia Lyon Photography
pecking at your brain, overcome your feelings of inadequacy or uncertainty, face the blank page, and engrave your vision on it in blood. You trust in the great power of imagination to propel you from blank page to blank page.

Writers may try to ignore ideas, knowing that following the pull of thought means a lot of hard work. But ideas are sticky, and the only way to quiet them is to tend to them. They come to you in skeletal form, revealing their flesh a patch at a time. You have to massage the bones to grow the fat of an entire story. You live the phrase, "Words are as beautiful as wild horses, and sometimes as difficult to corral," (Ted Berkman).

Then, when you have nurtured and grown a story to its completion, you hand this baby of yours over to trained eyes and allow them to cut it to pieces with the sword of the editing pen. Your baby comes back to you in shreds, and you have to reshape and re-flesh your creation. Though you love your story—this child of words—and hold it close to your heart, you also have to remain detached from it. You will kill it by thinking it is perfect right from your fingers.

As a reader, it's effortless to pick up a book and read the outcome of someone's blood and tears from your easy chair—to consume a writer's offering with a critical eye. After all, you get the end product of the author's weeks, months, perhaps years, of thought, editing, rewriting, frustration, and occasional satisfaction. You never see the long hours spent cuddling a keyboard and consuming caffeine.

A book is a writer's offering to the world. It's an attempt to enlighten, teach, or entertain. It says, "I had an idea, and I paid the price to bring it to you." It's a manifestation of the labor expended to bring value from the void of the blank page. And as you read this offering, if you look closely, here and there, sprinkled between the letters, or mixed in with the printer's ink, you can find the writer's blood, declaring to mankind, "Look at me, I'm mirroring divinity. I am a creator."