Well Begun is Half Done

A common thread for me throughout my life as a writer (and I say that as if I had such a life, when in fact what I have is phases of intense creativity with long bleak (the word bleak is there for dramatic effect only, it’s a damned fine word) non-creaive stretches where inspiration left […]

A common thread for me throughout my life as a writer (and I say that as if I had such a life, when in fact what I have is phases of intense creativity with long bleak (the word bleak is there for dramatic effect only, it’s a damned fine word) non-creaive stretches where inspiration left me, where the muse out to lunch and could not be summoned back) is the thread of begun but not completed.

There’s something so powerful about beginnings. So compelling. And things are so easy to start. A line, a scene, a bit of dialog. An encounter. The thrill of newness, the fresh taste of something you’ve never had before. A conversation between characters, thrust and parry. Chase and capture.

What, though, after that?

I prefer appetizers to desserts. I say that as a cook as much as I say it as diner. The prep work is more fun than the garnishing. Work with a knife, more satisfying the work with a squeeze bottle.

I wasn’t going to start talking about cooking yet in this blog. I think that veered away from a good metaphore.

I have at least 20 stories in a started or partially completed state. Another two or three (other than Wanton, the genesis of which I should cover in a later entry) finished, and those not really worthy of much because they were such early and immature efforts.

There are a couple, at least, that i think are worth completing. Another few in outline state that might be. I even have (started) a story about this theme – more or less – inspired by an American Music Club song called “At my Mercy“.

And of course, I started two more stories this week (In fact, between writing this and publishing it, I started a third).

Beginnings are so easy. A writer friend of mine told me I’m good at opening lines. And many of my stories start with that gem, a line of dialog or introduction, and I’m left to try building a story around that. I’d trade that particularly frustrating talent for being good at endings.

The question then is – how the hell do I go finish what I’ve started? How do I go back and pick up the threads of something I’ve lost touch with and find a way to complete it, ride it to it’s inevitable conclusion? Maybe it’s a factor of how I write; it’s not a cold and cerebral process for me, it’s a question of being in the place, the time, the head of the character. I have to be there, walk with those feet, touch with those hands, drink with that mouth. And then I write what the character feels. But once I’ve lost that place, I cannot, sometimes, find my way back. Maybe this is why I have trouble writing in third person, or from a female point of view; I start that exra step away from the character and thus have greater distance to get back.

There’s a thought to ponder.

Or maybe it’s simpler. newness implies infinite possibility. Completion is – I don’t know, the opposite. Possibilities fined down to the point where there’s only one, and that is complete and past.

Or some might say it’s simple procrastination and the rest of this is navel-gazing. But screw that, if there’s navel-gazing to be done, I’d rather I was looking at some of *your* navels. [wink wink]


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