I’m one of those people that has a million ideas — for everything. I think I’m a closet wannabe inventor. For example, I came up with those little ear mittens before L.L. Bean did. Uh-huh. Really.
I think that’s why writing suits me as it does — turns out I also have a million ideas for novels, short stories, screenplays, you name it. Of course, such things are also incredibly distracting – it’s a lot more fun to come up with a new beginning than it is to edit a manuscript (for the umpteenth time!) or resolve a conflict between two characters (maybe they should get a divorce!). There is no question that I am in love with beginnings – the newness, the excitement, the wide open road that lies ahead.
But it turns out that many of my new beginnings end up in false starts. A few pages in, the story doesn’t click. The character unexpectedly vacates the premises for greener pastures. Suddenly my brand new shiny idea doesn’t seem so shiny any more. I’m bored. I’m yawning. I’m looking off to the side of the wall where my daughter has pulled off a piece of Scotch tape and some paint along with it (she uses Scotch tape for EVERYTHING). Hey, hold up there! What a great idea for a story … a girl picks at a lone piece of tape on a wall of a new house, no, of her aunt’s house where she’s been sent to live, and it begins to pull off the paint, no, rip the wall paper to reveal something beneath the wall paper …
And another new beginning is born.
Whether or not it develops into something more remains to be seen. And, inevitably, a successful idea or novel needs more than a great beginning – it needs a great middle and ending, too. My ear muff cuff idea never made it past the idea stage, and many of my book ideas remain on paper or shoved into a file somewhere, already forgotten. But some of those ideas managed to stay alive, page after page, and got to find their middle and even their ending. They’ve earned the right to wander the wide open road, picking up passengers along the way who love the story, who love the characters, and who want more.
And so I get to begin again.