Step Into the Ring

When I come to the blank page, it’s not always a Hemingway moment for me. Often, I’m bouncing on the balls of my feet, with clenched fists dangling at my side. A light layer of sweat gathers over my brow as I prepare to enter the ring with Muhammad Ali. My words chirp and squeak, play peekaboo with me from behind the giant. The glint in his dark-chocolate colored eyes dares me to slip between the rope.

It’s a journal entry, I tell myself. Don’t over-think it, just write. Push past Mr. Ali, get control of your words.

I wipe away the moisture with the back of my hand. Get on with it, the little voice in my head peeps. My fingers twitch, the desire to pound the keyboard relentlessly is physical.

But I don’t. The viperous little voice in my head taunts, “What if no one likes what you write?”


The unanswerable question has no place in my writer’s mind. The unknown packs a bigger punch than Mr. Ali. Him, I can handle. The uncertainty and blistering doubt is worse than an uppercut to my gut.

I circle the blank page as a boxer does his opponent, eager for a knockout, but uncertain if I have the strength to take him out with a single blow. An inviting breeze dances with the grace of the world heavy-weight, through the lace panels on either side of the French door pulling me outside. “Maybe tomorrow,” I announce to the empty room.

On my walk along the coastline, I find Elemar’s bench. The bikes swishing by, the waves playing touch football with the shore, the shrieks of the children pounding the wet sand, freeze as the image stolen with the click of a shutter, does. Sitting with Elemar, I look out to the sea. Who is he? Did Elemar and his lover walk this coastline? Was theirs’ a lifetime love? What happened to him? Was he taken away too soon? My writer’s mind blazes with curiosity. Engaging in the familiar silent interrogation of the investigative journalist eases my earlier trepidation to slip between the ropes and tackle Ali.

An hour later, I’m back in my skin watching the words fill the empty page. On Elemar’s bench, I recall reading something in Fearless Writing. William Kenower, the author, states with a writer should write what the writer loves and not worry about the noise outside of their head. Mr. Kenowner’s advice isn’t a new how-to, but a reminder. Long ago when I came out of the closet and declared myself a writer, I added to the first page of my first journal.

Mr. Kenowner isn’t telling me what I don’t know, haven’t told myself a million times, but I forget. I’m susceptible to the darkness and need reminding. It’s why Mr. Ali stands in my ring daring me to push past the unknown. I’m sure he had his demons to battle, but they didn’t stop him. Evidence shows Mr. Ali remained fearless in and out of the ring.

I can’t predict how readers will react to my words, whether a reader will stay or bounce when they land on my site, nor can I control their reactions. I write because as Elemar’s lover loved, I love what I write.

The right to write day after day is my daily rite.

Whatever your daily rite is, honor it, and step in your ring prepared to fight for your right.

p.s.  If you need a reminder or want to let go of your frustration with the blank page, I recommend Fearless Writing.