The sadness of a page left unwritten.


Facing an empty page

Facing an empty page

I have read of writers worst fears. The fears of settling down in front of an empty page. The page doesn’t beckon nor ever shows signs of life no matter how keen the aspiring writer casts his eyes on the empty sheet. A nightmare to behold. It is much the same with the painter facing an empty canvas. At least with canvas one could give it another coat of primer. The writer might in the same manner change the sheet of paper or turn it over. Some say it is best to have an idea, others would urge to make a start anyway, the idea might come along later. Write a single word or smear some paint. It is better than nothing. Get rid of the whiteness, the blankness. Anything to make a start.

It is the same with the composer. He gets up, has his or her coffee, saunters over to the desk and needs to write his first note or strike the first chord. Will it be a boring middle C?  What key ? He desperately needs the first few notes, a tune or phrase, anything to make a start. The sculptor,  facing a cold unyielding block of stone or marble. Where shall he make his first blow, start hewing away? It is not easy to be an artist (or dentist, bricklayer, statistician  for that matter.

The irony is that some of the best works get created when the artist hardly knows what he is doing. You can read this in auto-biographies. And listening to Mozart one gets the impression he would not ponder too much about what to compose next. He just could not, would not have had the time. Without hesitation he just jacked on producing voluminous beautiful  music, almost in disregard of the outcome.  He just did.

When I was teaching adults wanting to create something from nothing I used to urge them to just make a start, do a doodle. Kids have no trouble doing that. What happened to you growing up into adults? Where are you now? Remember you used to draw a house with a smoking chimney at a crazy angle to the roof? Your mum put it up on the wall to be admired by everyone. Some adults would often start by saying “I can’t do it, I was never any good.”

Where did that come from?  Who told you  can’t do something. Go on, overcome your fear. Push the charcoal on the paper and draw a line for starters, it won’t kill you.  Nothing becomes art on its own accord.

Just be a Mozart,  a Rembrandt, Sibelius, Henri Moore or a J.Verne and do it.



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30 Responses to “The sadness of a page left unwritten.”

  1. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    No truer words were ever spoken. A good prod to get going and do something.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bkpyett Says:

    At least you prompted yourself to write a post Gerard! I hope the painting is soon to follow. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Barbara,
      I did start painting when much younger but found it difficult to support family. I had a few solo exhibitions, mainly in The Netherlands and was succesful in getting a work in the Art Gallery of NSW.

      lloyd Rees gave me a first price in a Lismore gallery many years ago as well.

      It finally became a matter of finding space for them, I mean hundreds of them!

      Words are now my domain and they use so little space. I love putting down words now.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. M-R Says:

    Oh, fine ! No worries.
    [takes out small pistol and shoots him]

    Liked by 2 people

  4. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Interesting and inspiring. Certainly you have covered lots of ground in your younger years and I’m glad that you chose to write later in life. Very nice post, Gerard.


  5. berlioz1935 Says:

    But you can write, Gerard, even when you write about your inability to write. I have no compulsion to write. But I sometimes have an idea to write about.

    You worry me lately with your anxiety about not being able to do “things”. There is a depressive streak in your writing.


  6. rod Says:

    I would say do it if you want to, not if you don’t. There is no virtue in trying to force yourself do something when the motivation to do it is lacking, or trying to say something when you nothing to say.

    We continually strive to become rather than resting content just to be. Why is that?


  7. Master of Something Yet Says:

    Yes, letting go of the fear. Fear of not being good enough, of embarrassing oneself. It’s a hard one to overcome. Perhaps it starts in school as our work is “assessed” on a daily basis and we start to tell ourselves that our low marks prove we’re not good at something. Perhaps we need to find our inner four-year-old.
    I think this is a post that would speak to many in this realm, Gerard. And beautifully written as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Curt Mekemson Says:

    I agree Gerard. The best way to fight writer’s block is to get words down on paper. They can always be edited or deleted later. –Curt


  9. Higher Density Says:

    Reblogged this on I Write The Music.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you for your re-blog. I noticed on your list of composers that J P Sibelius is not on it. I am married to a Finn so am somewhat biased but I do love his music, especially his Violin Concerto.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oddly enough he never composed or wrote anymore music during the last thirty years of his life. His wife, Aino thought he was happy to rest and reflect on what he had achieved.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      He also believed that the ultimate music would have to be a note of silence. He condensed his music to the barest but most essential and some believe his eighth symphony just never made it past a few notes with lengthy silence in between and despite some efforts of revision it wasn’t ever published.
      His greatest love was ‘silence’.


  10. Julia Lund Says:

    Sometimes, having too many ideas is an enemy – which word/note/brushstroke should come first? – but oh no! That means I’ve got nowhere to fit this bit of inspiration in. But once those spontaneous scribbles are down, that’s when the discipline and commitment of creativity kicks in.


  11. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Almost every night I go sleep thinking about my next painting/drawing – the magnum opus that sits in my head, day after day after day. And the only thing that stops me is FEAR because what i have in my head never quite translates to the paper, either in writing or art. But I don’t need to explain that, I think you know that already! It’s the curse of the creative!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are right. It is best not to take it all too seriously either. The beginning and the doing after is what gives me the joy. (Apart from a nice tuna steak with broccoli) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lottie Nevin Says:

        Gerard, I love the quote, indeed I live my life by it, ‘It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive’ sometimes I wish it were otherwise. At least in my head I have these great/fantastic/orgasmic creations – they are what fuel me! Tuna steak and broccoli sounds very lush. I have the most fantastic cooker now with a tepanyaki griddle so we eat very well – such a shame about the paintings though………!!!!!


  12. Andrew Says:

    I get twitchy if I don’t take photos or see birds. I write in phases. It’s therapeutic but I can’t write to order. You are probably the last Renaissance man in Australia, Gerard. And possibly the first.


  13. Says:

    This made me remember when I was at art college. In the studio every now and again, someone would just say, ‘oh come on, let’s workshop’. We were studying sculpture, but we would make some silly rules (blue, high, pencils) and then take it in turns to add to or alter the ‘thing’. When years later I volunteered in schools I used to take a small group of kids and pass clay, or pencil and paper, or tins and ribbons round so nobody owned the ‘thing’ and nobody was embarrassed by what came out. It was amazing how liberating this could be.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Patti Kuche Says:

    A master of motivation Gerard, and entertainment in the process!


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