And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. ~ Meister Eckhart
This explains why, although I have only nine-going-on-ten published books and just a few old and forever-unsold manuscripts, I have a virtual drawerful of Chapter One through Chapter Threes. Some of them, it must be said, I regret not finishing—Molly Linden’s story still wakes me in the middle of the night occasionally with an insomnia-inducing “what if you did this instead of that?” mantra.
Most of those beginnings, though, shouldn’t really have happened. They are what I did when I got to Chapter Six or Chapter Eight of the work in progress and...oh, crap, it wouldn’t go anywhere. It is the occasional plight of a pantser, when the whole flying by the seat of said pants runs out of gas and you’re grounded because you have no conflict. Your hero lacks oomph. You have no black moment—not even a dove gray one that will darken the horizon before, voila, the sun of the happily ever after starts struggling up over the land line.
A reason I’m here—aside from the fact that I really love writing blog posts and Brenda said I could come and take her day—is that my editor just called the other day and offered a contract for my next book in the Harlequin Heartwarming line. I spent the afternoon zipping around like one of those battery bunnies, meeting my husband at the door with “guess what!” and planning (several times) how I would spend my advance. This was my behavior on the first sale—why should the 10th be any different?
I don’t have a release date yet, and goodness knows my title of The Winter of Letting Go, probably won’t stick, but the word “contract” gives instant birth to the word “promotion.” So, by all means, remember I have a book coming out...er...sometime with the title of...er...something, and I hope you enjoy it a lot. Oh, and here’s my whole backlist at a glance: http://ow.ly/Hqpd3
Okay, commercial’s over—back to beginnings. The book I just sold was shockingly difficult to write. It took ten months or so, not a really long time for me, but it seemed longer. Because I had trouble with those things I listed up there: the conflict, the oomph, the black moment. Because one time I closed the file and mentally consigned it to that drawer of beginnings. Well, not exactly one time—it was more like a dozen times.
But every morning, I opened the file again. And there is a lesson in this. Not for everyone, but definitely for me.
Beginnings, as the starting quote of this post says, are magic. When it is the right time. When the reason for the beginning is that yesterday or the day before or last Friday at midnight, there was a finishing. When I only begin a new story because writing the old one has defeated me, there is no magic in that, only desperation and more than a hint of self-pity.
Maybe it is time to empty that drawer (except maybe for Molly Linden’s story—I so like her) and just start a new story when the last one is finished. When the time is right and the beginning really is magic.
Thanks for having me here today. I wish you all magic beginnings and happy endings!
Retired from the post office, Liz Flaherty spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and Duane live in the old farmhouse in Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…30-some years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening!
She’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or please come and see her at: