Curses & Blessings of a Blank Page: First Issue Reflections

It should have been so simple. This time the words were given to me; the writing had been written. This time the photographs had been photographed and the drawing drawn. Simple. And yet, there I was four days before the release of our first issue, sitting at a computer with my heart racing and anxiety building, staring at 20+ blank pages. And in my mind, amidst the hundreds of soul-sucking, confidence-killing negative voices, one voice was overpowering the rest. Its words: I can’t do this. Well, obviously I did. But you should know that for 2 years I didn’t. I couldn’t. I called myself a writer and pursued a college degree, yet I didn’t take one writing workshop or write one  poem. 2 years, over 700 days. For over 700 days, those voices were my voice, paralyzing my mind and stifling my artistic identity. Occasionally I would open my journal, only to find an overwhelmingly blank page and zero courage to start again. More than anything, I was scared to find that part of myself, the creator, the poet, the artist, had fled.

It started again slowly. I began by writing about my day, how I was feeling. And then from there, in my final semester of college, I committed to writing my senior thesis as a creative nonfiction piece rather than a traditional essay. The first sentence took days (literally) and I was terrified. One month later and with the last sentence came a feeling of wholeness, completeness.

I’m still working on it, hushing those voices and putting pen to page. A month after starting GirlSense & NonSense, I wrote my first poem in two years. Writing that poem was relatively pain-free but creating the September issue came with a whole other set of anxieties. With so many people watching and with other artists depending on my work, I sat at my computer with my heart racing and anxiety building, staring at 20+ blank pages. One voice flooding my mind: I can’t do this.

For the first time in my life, I just let it go.

GirlSense & NonSense celebrates young emerging artists and all of the vulnerabilities that come with sharing a piece of your artistic self. There is nothing perfect about this magazine and we’re never completely sure of anything. We are all emerging together. So in the span of four days, those 20 pages filled with words, photos, and art.

Every single person involved with the first issue had to face their own fears and make themselves, their words, and their work vulnerable to friends, family, and complete strangers. Every piece that was submitted came with prefacing phrases like this: I know it’s not perfect or I’m not the best writer or I wasn’t sure what to write or Can I make it anonymous? Despite all of that, every single piece was attached to a name. Every single person shared their voice and it wasn’t anonymous.

Publishing the first issue forced me to confront one simple fact: I created GirlSense & NonSense not just to empower other girls, but to empower myself. I need this magazine.  Girls who can't seem to confront the fear of the blank screen or page need this magazine. So let me just say this: I’m good enough. You’re good enough.

GirlSense & NonSense celebrates young female artists who are emerging and is itself emerging. We celebrate every triumph, we own and celebrate every mistake, and what’s more: we don’t apologize. So, photograph, write, sing, dance, draw, paint, get it all wrong and celebrate your (flawed, imperfect, incomplete) creativity with us. We love you for it and we’re learning to love ourselves too.

We invite you to read our (flawed, imperfect, incomplete) first issue and celebrate the young women who've unapologetically shared their stories, minds, and art with the world around them. View now by clicking the image below:

GirlSense & NonSense Sept. 2014

And if you haven't already, follow us on Twitter; we're @gsandns. Tweet us your favorite pieces from our inaugural issue and use the hashtag #weneedwomenartists. This hashtag has never been used on Twitter, and it's time to change that. Support these young women as they develop their voice, their art, and most importantly, their identity.  

With love, Pamela