An Open Letter to the Impostor in Me

I’m staring at a blank page and it’s staring back. The black cursor is blinking. Binary signals switching on and off like the waving of a traffic cop. Proceed. Move Forward. Do something. But the cursor doesn’t move and the blank page is open, oppressive in its potential.

I should be writing. I should be hitting those holy keys, sending electric jolts up the spine of my laptop but I am paralyzed by the art of imperfection. You tell me my writing is not, and never will be, perfect and I agree. That should be liberating but it isn’t. I know the ideas living between my ears, the characters in the cavity of my cranium, the songs reverberating in my skull, caught on my teeth, will always differ from the scribbles on the page. I know that, so my throat is raw from controlled silence.

The white of the page sears the white of my eyes. The color white, it’s a funny thing in terms of refraction. It’s every color smooshed together in a chromatic humdrum. Every visible range is compressed into each pixel on the screen. So the blank page is actually full, I tell myself, of everything I lack courage to say, but you’re always there to remind me differently. Someone once told me the black pixels are not composed of light or pigmentation of any kind. Rather, they are the absence of light, a bulb burned out. So, in a way, when I fill the page with my inadequate ravings, I’m assaulting what the blank page could be.

The cursor is blinking. Or is it winking at me? Taunting my complete inability to translate thought into language. The necessity to produce is stitched into my lining. This need to be productive, to measure out my time in cups and teaspoons, carefully sifting the seconds. To quantify time by the rate I generate text, as opposed to the value of quietude, or fulfillment, even joy in creation. Not a minute to spare for anything but writing. I’m programmed to knead out words like a factory. Programmed, but the code is shot.

The real writers (that’s what you call them) worked in ink. They pressed down into the rough skin of parchment, searing their words into permanence. You tell me they didn’t have these flocks of doubt. Who am I kidding with these digital absences of light? Who am I to shout? To speak at all?

I feel ashamed when I’m not writing. I don’t blame you for that one. No, that’s far too clever for you. I know your voice. I know your sneer. But how do I deny what’s in my head, because that’s where you live alongside the ideas, the characters, the songs you so casually dismiss. I know you’re afraid. Scale a chain link fence with me. Hit the gravel crunch and run to the porchlight beacon with me. You would rather iron out the wrinkles in my gray matter than process one more rejection but take a moment and be brave with me.

We can plant a garden. Dig a deep image, grow a metaphor, fight a deer. And maybe each period isn’t a hole punched into the page, but a seed for every thought that follows after. And maybe when our thoughts bloom, we’ll wear flowers in our hair.

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