He wondered how many writers, using the term loosely, had sat and stared at the blank sheet of paper in front of them and thought ‘Write about what you know, that’s what we’re told, that’s what everyone says, write about what you know. Easy’.
Sat there and then, staring at that piece of paper, pen held limply in hand, realised that it wasn’t easy, really, and that pulling the interesting what you know from the whole what you know, that mostly isn’t, interesting that is, is just about as hard as anything they’ve tried before.
So they take their pen and start writing, and they write about the piece of paper in front of them, and they write about the pen they’re holding limply, and as they write the scope widens and takes in the desk they’re sitting at, and the room they’re in, and the door and the shelves and the window. But they start with the sheet, because that’s what they know.
‘The fibers of the paper lie in raised rows . . . ‘
The nib of the pens scratches over the paper. Maybe they’ll mention that later.
‘ . . . , like a ploughed field under snow’
It’s good they think. Visual. Nicely weighted. But then they look at the paper they’re writing on and realise that in fact the sheet is smooth and unadorned; no fibers, no water marks, nos smudges or stains.
They think to themselves ‘Give me a fucking break, Christ’ and then they think, ‘Why am I sitting in front of a blank piece of paper anyway?’, followed by ‘Who the fuck writes longhand anymore?’ and ‘Where the fuck is my laptop?’
And they realise that this piece of writing doesn’t really make much sense anymore.
So they stop.