I. The plan for this month’s post was to write about white space. Some of you may know that I identify as a minimalist. As a lifestyle choice, this means I try not to have a lot of STUFF around, to live, as Francine Jay says, Lightly.
II. White space, as a design concept, is used in composition to highlight. White space enhances, and influences, what we see when we look at a scene.
III. When I construct an altar, I give as much attention to what is not on the surface as what is, and also to where each object is in relation to all others. This was not always the case — I was guided toward this understanding by several important teachers. One told me: “When each object is carefully considered, there’s no reason to crowd — you entire intention shines through if you’ll trust in the power of the few.”
IV. White space, on the page, gives the reader’s eye a chance to rest; it gives the reader a chance to “breathe” between lines. It is, intuitively, why we format dialogue the way we do.
V. I wanted to tell you all about creating white space in life, and how important it is to the writing process, but when I sat down to do it, I wrote several lengthy blocks of text. Which is the exact opposite of how I write creative prose — spare, with plenty of space for the reader to read between the lines. I’d as soon tell you what to feel in a piece of prose as I would club you over the head and force you to stay for dinner.
VI. You do need white space in your life, though. Of this, I am certain.
VII. All of this is to say, I’m in between writing projects and at loose ends. The project I just finished was an intense one (more news on this, coming soon), and each time I sit down to try to write something new, my brain refuses after a few lines. Ever tried to convince a cat or a toddler to eat something they don’t like? You can wrap that pill in all the cheesesticks in the world — they’re still not going to put it in their mouth. My brain, I guess I’m glad to report, doesn’t trust the cheesesticks either.
VIII. There’s no real reason to fight this. The kind of writing I like to do is not the kind of writing that can be forced or cajoled. Give it some space, and it comes around, eventually.
IX. So what am I doing in the meantime?
X. I promise: I’m trying to do nothing at all.
My short lyric essay, “The Heart Is Not a Tomato,” will be featured in the next edition of Paranoid Tree, a one-page, custom-illustrated zine containing a single micro story. Get a subscription, or stay tuned, here.