Original Post Date September 18, 2013 at 11:08 AM
Writing about nothing is actually writing about something. Von demonstrates how.
It started that way for everyone sitting around the pond. Our instructor, who I have a photo of but can’t remember her name, was trying to instill a writer’s fervor into our 11-year old heads. My fellow advanced writers and I that spring of 1988 sat staring at blank pages of journals. “But I have nothing to write about,” one lamented. We backed him up in solidarity with a whine of agreement. The instructor sighed. “Write that down, then.” So we all wrote, I have nothing to write about, across the page. And paused our writing tools for further instruction. “You have ten minutes, write from there.” And she walked off. We looked at each other. We looked at our single sentence. The ducks looked at us.
This morning felt the same way. I opened my journal, flipped to a clean page, and stared. And stared. Most Wednesdays I wake up knowing exactly what I’m going to deliver to this blog. Today? Hoy? Nada. I thought about describing my morning dream, but I’ve done that before, and frankly, it was pretty gruesome. I haven’t written any new poetry, and haven’t been drawn to the archives to find one to offer. I’m in study mode with Juarez, so there’s nothing to expound on here yet, as it’s still in development. So. What to write about?
I sat cross-legged with my spiral journal on my lap, my pubescent mind growing anxious as it stared at those ominous six words, now given a time limit to fill the page with something, anything. I looked around and observed some of my counterparts in a flow. Some were still holding a pencil in place. I caught the eye of one of my cohorts doing the same thing I was doing, panning the group and panicking. Then I caught sight of a duck moving my direction. What’s that duck doing? Write that down. The duck started to wobble up from the pond, closer to my perch on the wall. I began to document everything the duck was doing. I was thrown into the phenomenon of duck encroachment, describing its motions, its thoughts (as I perceived them to be), its hunger for revenge for the death of its ducklings. Its embodiment of a human spirit cursed by a witch. Its thirst for blood, a la Bunnicula. Scribble, scribble, scribble, and, next thing you know, she called “Time!” The ombudsman of the group whined, “but I still have more to write!” And we chimed in with our concurring laments. She made some statement about staying there to complete our writing, but it was time for dinner. I didn’t even hear the rest of her statement. I heard food was ready. No more journal.
In my not knowing what to write about today, I developed something to write about, merely by letting my mind ramble, and then applying it in written form. This is how writers work, this is where we excel.
P.S. I just did the memory walkback thing. Her name was Mrs. Vickers!