You might think that writing gets easier after time. You might think that a woman who is beginning her 113th book would find it easy to sit down at the computer and dive into the novel she’s been plotting and researching for several weeks.
You’d be wrong.
It was far easier to jump in during my younger days, when I didn’t know what I was doing. But now I realize how important that first line, first page, and first chapter are. What voice do I use? What POV character? What tense? The first chapter sets the tone, the voice, the genre, and the mood for the entire book, so it’s of crucial importance.
And the first sentence! I could spent a week obsessing over the sentence that will either hook or repel a reader.
In the old days, I used to jump in and flail happily around, supported by useless actions and bulky adverbs. Now I know that to swim well, the prose should be unencumbered. Now I also know about the currents and undertows. I know that parts of the story can be exhausting, and truths revealed can be painful and soul-searing. I know that the very act of putting on one’s bathing suit to GO swimming is an act of self-revelation not for the faint of heart.
And so for the last couple of days I have been happy to do anything BUT jump into the story that must be started soon. I have written zillions of emails, worked on my blog, planned writers’ conferences, and talked with friends on the phone. I have played with computer programs and thought about cleaning out the closet. I have Googled more trivial topics than you can imagine, and I have selected a half dozen quotes that might make a good epigraph for the story. And yes, I have watched movies. Great, good, and pitiful.
But about an hour ago, I put a toe into the water, then slid in. It took me a while, but I think I’m finally finding my stroke.
Another book, another workout, another adventure. All due to end by September first.
Want to come along for another one?