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Dean Cracknell



Some say that a blank sheet of paper is the scariest thing in the world. Not monster-under-the-bed scary, or daemon-in-the-wardrobe scary, but panic-inducing scary just the same. It is the kind of scary that causes tightness in the chest and dryness in the throat, an agoraphobic expanse of white that can empty a mind of creative thought quicker than an Abba lyric, but without the infectious beat and toe-tapping impertinence.

Unlike paper-cuts, which have been scientifically demonstrated to be if not the most painful cut of all then certainly very painful in proportion to their severity, the irrational distress induced by the sight of an empty page is easily remedied.

First among these is the ‘This page left intentionally blank’ script that is oft seen in published books. Ostensibly placed to ensure that either the total number of pages is divisible by eight (or some other higher power of two) or that all chapters begin on an even or an odd page, their true purpose is one of reassurance to both the reader and the writer. It is essentially an exorcism of the ghost of missing words that would plague the latent writer in us all and so dispel the unspoken fear that the words once written on the page had escaped to later reappear in more grizzly form. Or worse still, had been stolen away in the night for some nefarious purpose by forces unknown, to return at some later date though your letter-box unannounced, under the cover of some officious-looking but anonymous manilla envelope addressed to ‘The Occupier’.

However, the better solution by far is to attack the spectre of the blank page head-on by placing a single random capital letter in the top left corner of the page. Now the page is blank no more, the solitary seed chosen from a Scrabble-bag of twenty six possible beginnings can be allowed to germinate and grow into words and sentences.

Maybe even whole paragraphs will form and so with time and patience more letters, words, sentences and paragraphs will flow from pen or keyboard until the page is full and another blank page presents itself...