To Boldly Go . . .

Space…the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise,
its five-year mission
….to explore strange new worlds
…to seek out new life and new civilizations
…to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Recognize those words? Yep. The mission statement intoned by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in the old Star Trek series created by Gene Roddenberry.

Star-Trek-Movie-LogoIn the 2009 movie, directed by J. J. Abrams (script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman), the lines were changed to

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone… before.

Thank you, Wikipedia!

But right now, I’m thinking of another space: white space. The blank canvas of a piece of paper or the screen on a word processing program—the place “to boldly go where no one has gone . . . before.”

Space—a place to realize dreams or regurgitate nightmares; to produce something fresh from the landscape of your imagination; to “seek out new life-forms and new civilizations.” In other words, to be as original as you can.

Filling that space can be as daunting as the start of a five-year mission exploring the galaxy. Speak for yourself, you’re probably thinking. I have no trouble filling the white space. Okay. . . . Filling that space can be as daunting for me as the start of a five-year mission exploring the galaxy. Happy now?

The words to boldly go are a clarion call for me. Yet I’ve never been known for boldness. Senior year of high school, I stood by my locker grinning like a stalker as a guy I liked passed. Couldn’t work up the nerve to say anything, other than whisper to my friends, “There he is!” (as if they couldn’t see him). Repeat that a thousand times during college. Nothing’s changed by the way. But some of that timidity has crept into my writing these days. I freeze up, even in a discovery draft.

To boldly go . . .

Yeah, yeah. I know all that stuff about writing being akin to exercising a muscle. If I don’t do it regularly (and this week, I’ve been lax), my writing muscle becomes flaccid. Well, welcome to the flab, baby! Not a pretty sight.

To boldly go . . .

Okay. I hear you, James T. Kirk/Gene Roddenberry. I also think of another word often used in Star Trek for an entirely different reason: Energize. A command given when the transporter was about to beam someone to a different place. To boldly go, I need to be energized. I can’t help thinking of a great post Andra Watkins wrote, “How Do You Fill Your Creative Tank?” which reminded me that my tank is low. I’ve been running on fumes for a while.

But I’m not content to sit here flabby and empty. I’m off to fill my creative tank so that I can exercise my writing muscle. I’ve got a long space voyage ahead.

Star Trek logo from


28 thoughts on “To Boldly Go . . .

  1. Linda, I think the term “boldly go” is infinitely tied to a problem I have with that white space: perfectionism!!

    Ann Lamott says it’s is the voice of the oppressor, that “perfectionism means you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is a wonderfully fertile ground. Tidiness suggests something is as good as it’s going to get; it implies a held breath, suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move. Perfectionism is a muscle cramp of protection. It limits us, keeps us writing in tight, worried ways, keeps us from experiencing life in a naked and immediate way. Sloppy, imperfect messes have value!”

    Wise, wise words.

    This concept of perfectionism and letting go is an unlearning and relearning I face every day, and just part of my process before I can “boldly go.”

    I like this quote from Cohen:

    Ring the bell that still can ring
    Forget the perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

    • Wow. Great thoughts!!! Love that Cohen poem!! I’m going to print that and tack it to my printer.

      I hear you on perfectionism. Sometimes after a rejection, I worry about getting something perfect so that it will be accepted.

    • I wish the clutter in my house was fertile ground for my writing. Alas, it just grows germs…and more clutter.

      Love the poem.

  2. Linda & Sharon, Talk about synchronicity…. I’ve just been reading about all this in Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. She talks about perfectionism as one of the pieces of “armor” we use to protect ourselves from vulnerability. We can avoid being vulnerable, we think, if we make things perfect. But, she says, “Perfectionism actually sets us up to feel shame, judgment, and blame, which then leads to even more shame and self-blame. I’m feeling this way because I’m not good enough.” Her answer to perfectionism, inspired by the Leonard Cohen quote Sharon mentioned, is “appreciating the beauty of cracks.” She writes, “[I]f we want freedom from perfectionism, we have to make the long journey from ‘What will people think?’ to ‘I am enough.’ That journey begins with shame resilience, self-compassion, and owning our stories.” Daring Greatly is a wonderful book, by the way. I’m finding it immensely helpful.

    • Stephanie, you hit the nail on the head. Sometimes it’s the fear of not being perfect that keeps me from going forth boldly, even though I tell myself that no one will see this discovery draft. I need to find that book then!! I love this: ““appreciating the beauty of cracks.”

  3. L. Marie – I can’t decide if I love this post because I just started watching Battlestar Galatica and I have space on the brain or if I love it because I can relate *so* well. I named my blog ‘Journey Toward Writing Dangerously’ for the exact reasons that you note in your blog and that Sharon notes in her reply. I worry that I’m too careful in my writing. I’m always looking for a way to crack open my writing or my brain, really, and spill out the dangerous, bold contents onto the page. One way, I’ve noticed, is to write something that I have no intention of showing a single other human being. That’s when some interesting stuff seems to pop out. Thanks, as always, for posting something that makes me THINK! 🙂

    • My writing is a bit safe too, Laura. Though I do have some really bad romance novels tucked away in a drawer somewhere that NO ONE will ever see. I should probably burn them.

      Battlestar Galactica is awesome!!! Which season are you in? I watched it awhile ago. I kept having to ignore people who wanted to spill the beans about Cylons.

  4. I hope you will let us know what you boldly do to fill your creative tank. I am glad that post inspired you. And, boldness is overrated. If you do something new with fear and trembling, and you get something out of it, you still did it…….that’s the important part. 🙂

  5. Some fantastic thoughts L. Marie. I love the analogies. Whilst I couldn’t really call myself a Trekkie, I have watched an awful lot of Star Trek films and TV series and I appreciate the comparisons. Great post.

    • Thank you! I’m a Trekkie, though I don’t go to the conventions, nor do I wear a costume. I can do the Vulcan hand thing though. Live long and prosper.

    • Thank you. 🙂 Maybe I’ll repeat those words (Space is overrated) when next I approach a blank screen. I seem to have no trouble filling every blank surface in my home. Wish I could do that with the page.

  6. I can relate to one of your comments above. Sometimes fear stands in my way of boldly moving forward, but I’m working on that insecurity. Terrific post, Marie. I’m off to check out Andra’s link.

  7. What a fantastic analogy. I’m not the hugest Trek fan but whenever I do watch an episode and listen to that spiel, I get a little bit teary, just because it’s awesome. And being able to relate it to writing makes it even more so.

    • Thanks, Emily. I get the chills listening to it (and maybe the stirring music helps). I love an epic journey. But I’ve been having white space issues lately, so I think about space a ton. And I’ve felt a bit spacey (har har), which doesn’t help. So, I admire you WIPpet Wednesday folks with multiple novels that you’re working on!

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