Please join me in giving Nancy a warm welcome.
The Blank Page
by Nancy Northcott
Every December, I tear the shrink wrap off of the calendar for the coming year and flip through the pages. They’re full of beautiful photographs and blank spaces. I already know some of the things that’ll be in those blanks--birthdays, holidays, and various appointments--but most of the boxes have nothing yet destined for them. Filling in some every month will chart the journey of our year.
I’ve never been one to look at every day as the first day of the rest of my life. That’s just too relentlessly upbeat for me. But after a day or a week or a month that hasn’t gone well, turning to a new, blank page is a way to draw a line under what came before and start fresh.
A perfect example, and one many of us think about at this time of year, is weight loss. When I worked as a weight loss counselor, I used to tell people not to get upset if they slipped up one day and totally blew their eating plans. Getting back on track the next day, on the next blank page or box of the calendar, can help salvage the rest of the week. It’s damage control, and I think it’s easier when there’s a new, clean page to be written on.
Some people make their new starts by listing resolutions. I’m prone to overreach when I do that, so I’ve started making general plans instead. There’s something about resolutions that feel rigid to me, as though a single slip-up voids progress. Plans seem much more flexible.
This year, my plans are to lose weight, work out more often, declutter my house (surely a Herculean task), and weed my bookshelves (again, and more ruthlessly). When I flip the calendar page to each new month, I’ll consider how I did with these the one before and what I need to do in the one ahead.
I also want to get back to the Okefenokee and to Brunswick and Savannah so I can do research for the Light Mage Wars. I love seeing these places through the characters’ eyes and figuring out how my imaginary people will interact with these surroundings.
There are other blank pages than the ones on calendars, of course. Artists start with blank canvases. So do needlepointers and embroiderers, though they use different kinds of canvases. For a cook who loves inventing dishes, the blank recipe card waits to be filled.
Writers confront blank pages all the time, ones we need to fill with words. Those pages are both invitation and challenge, and the words come more easily some days than others.
Do you make plans or resolutions? Do they ever involve blank pages or canvases? What are you looking toward for this year?