• Debate Magazine

The Articulate Minimalism of A Blank Canvas

By Seth Nicholls

There is a terrifying beast waiting for me whenever I open up my laptop to write an article. A blank white page. It stares at me with invisible eyes. It is angry. It is hungry. It is oh so profoundly disappointed in me. It keeps on looking. I shut the laptop. Perhaps another day.

I cope by imagining that whatever I could write would go better unsaid, either out of fear of its quality or some bizarre devotion to perfectionism. I try to tell myself there is beauty in the minimalism of a blank page, and that writing on it would almost turn it rotten.

I open the laptop. I stare into the blank, white page. Trapped in its gaze. Trapped in its endless nothingness, jumping from the edge of one only to fall onto the surface of another. A maze of my own making, built on unwritten blueprints. Nothing is made but more nothing, and I sit here stirring paradoxes.

And so I stare, enraptured by the blankness. Perhaps there is some powerful snowstorm on that page, with obscured adventurers fighting through it. Perhaps there is some soliloquy scrawled in invisible ink, so poetic and poised it would be sin to write over it. There must be something there. I hang off of the prayer that something has been hidden in a chest fundamentally empty.

But at some point I have to set onwards and sail the black ink sea. At some point I have do fucking anything, lest I starve on my page without a sentence to sate me. I call upon the stroke of pens. I call upon the chatter of lettered keys. I call upon the cracking of marble. I scream to the fucking beyond.

And slowly it comes. Thoughts and feelings and so many stories trickling towards me. Like streams meet and form a flood. Pick up speed and rush. It’s so fast now that I’m swept up from my feet. A jet black flood of writing sweeps me along and irrigates my screen with a thousand lines of black pixels. Till I face that dry, white page another day