Photo by Riccardo Bresciani from Pexels
This essay, Make the Move was featured in Bird’s Thumb Review, April 2018.
A blank page can be terrifying. To me, the idea of writing is exciting, but actually sitting down and opening a new document with its infinitude of white space fills me with dread. Rock climbing is much the same. Thinking of being on a wall brings exhilaration, and an almost Zen-like contentment—just me and the silent rock—but in practice, rock climbing often makes me feel like barfing and crying.
Writers often say writing is the most difficult, terrifying, painful thing they can imagine. Yet books get written. I wonder, how many pages have been written with trembling hands?
I wondered this last week as I clung to a rock wall fifty-feet off the ground. My legs shook, my palms were slick with cold sweat despite the chalk I applied and reapplied. I stood on a little rock oasis, a generous ledge on an otherwise smooth, vertical rock face. To move up the wall, I had to leave the ledge and reach for a tiny knob of granite of which I’d been afraid since I left the ground, but I’d been managing it until now. It feels impossible to leave this ledge. There was NOTHING above me. It was then that I realized the wall was a blank page.