The visual equivalent of silence.
Lately, I’ve been dwelling on Coe’s post on creative procrastination and Julie’s on porch sitting and stillness, and that lead me to nothing, as in the “nothing” mentioned twice in the final line of “The Snowman” by Wallace Stevens (“… ¦behold/Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is”) and so, here I am, pondering a few questions:
As writers, how do we each see white space? Both before our words and around them? How do we hear it? Shape it?
For white space is more than the absence of words, greater than emptiness. It seems alive. Waiting.
Suspended breath is not the absence of breath.
A few years ago I became busy with a project, busy-busy as a squirrel seeking nuts. I researched, wrote, revised. Sentences accrued, pages amassed, the thing morphed into a novel and so I typed “The End” and sent it off and then realized–ah ha!–what I had written was no novel but a very …wordy … picture book.
Did I need to write all those words to come to that realization? To be able to truly revise? Maybe. I don’t know. My process at the time did seem the equivalent of growing a glacier to harvest an ice cube.
But I think what really happened was that I had desperately gathered words and knit them into a blanket, a heavy security blanket, to guard against the nothing, the no thing. The waiting. I was busy-busy; therefore, something–some thing–had to happen. I forced it into being.
Generous margin. Long pause. White door not yet open.
White space can also be communal. We can be quiet together in a shared place. No one voice dominating, taking the floor. Perhaps in the silent moment at the end of this sentence, we might send a prayer or warm thought to Vermonters (and those in other states) wrestling with the after-effects of the hurricane.