I am good at beginnings. Great even. I don’t hem and haw. I just dive right in, full speed ahead. This is true with just about every other project in my life and is especially obvious when it comes to my writing. And this is why I have the beginnings of nine books in my Word writing file right now. Nine. This does not count the “Book Ideas” folder in my file cabinet, stuffed full of notes on index cards, legal pads, napkins, and at least one flattened paper coffee cup.
I am not a planner. I don’t outline. When I start a book, I have no real concept of where it might end up. What I have is a person or people and problem, maybe a vague sense of a theme, and I go from there. Sometimes I hit the wall after twenty pages. Sometimes I get lucky, realize I’m really on to something, and I get to keep going. But when I first sit down, I never know.
I love this beginning time. A blank page. An idea like the proverbial bolt of lightning cracking its way into my brain, down through my fingertips on the keyboard. The world is full of magic and light. Anything seems possible. It’s a rush.
So now I’m looking at all these abandoned beginnings and wondering if I have, as the euphemism goes, “an issue.” Am I a beginning junkie? Is that initial rush so good that I have to keep starting books again and again, often putting more finished drafts aside? Does this explain why just yesterday, when I was supposed to be finishing up the final chapters of my latest work in progress, I minimized the thing and opened up yet another new book file? I no longer felt stuck and bogged down, but light, elastic, like anything really was possible. Then the guilt set in. I felt a little like I’d been caught cheating on a much loved spouse. So I dutifully, a bit regretfully, closed the new book notes and went back to finishing up those final chapters.
Tell me I’m not alone here. Tell me there are others out there who are who lured by new beginnings, the blank page, the thrill that you can go anywhere, do anything.