Starting a New Book

I’m starting a new book on Monday morning.

Not starting, really. Because there have already been many months of research and brainstorming, timeline-drafting, character-building, outlining, and scribbling of scenes.  The story is written in my head. But on Monday morning, after the kids are at school, I’ll open an empty page and type Chapter 1, followed by…something.

For me, this is the scariest moment of the whole writing process, and no matter how many books I write, the days leading up to that empty page are always full of choking what-ifs. Learning to answer those what-if questions for myself kindly and firmly, the way I’d talk with one of my kids, is what gets me sitting down to write.

Me: I think I’ll clean out the linen closet today.

Other Me: You need to start that new book. I know you don’t like starting, but you’ll be really happy once you’re a few pages in.

Me: I can’t start with the linen closet looking like THIS!

Other Me:  The linen closet has looked like that for five years, and it’s never bothered you before. Get to work.

Me: But I still don’t know how to start it. What if I get the beginning wrong?

Other Me: You will. You always get the beginning wrong, and it works out okay. You’ll fix it later, once you discover what this story is really about.

Me: But maybe it’s not about ANYTHING AT ALL!!!!

Other Me: Stop that. You sound like a harpy, and you know very well that’s not true.

Me: Fine. But seriously…what if this book is the one I can’t finish?

Other Me: You say that every time you start a new book. In five pages, you will be happily skipping along. So really…light a candle and just start.

Me: I need some chocolate.

Other Me: It’s in the cupboard. But you’ll feel better if you have tea instead.

Me: You are not being very supportive, you know.

Other Me: (looks pointedly at writing room door)

Monday is the day. And so when the tea is brewed, I’ll go down to my writing room. Maybe there will be ducks diving on the lake outside my window, amid the ice chunks that are forming, and that will help. I will do my best to quiet the shrieking what-ifs, and I will open a new, white page. And begin.

6 Replies on “Starting a New Book

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this post-what a wonderful example of a “real life author” sharing about how she is hesitant to start a new story. Can’t wait to share this with my students Monday in writing workshop. By the way-good luck Monday morning enjoy your tea 🙂

    1. Thanks, Maria! I’m sure your students will be able to relate to that hesitation when it comes to beginning. Some things transcend age differences, I think.

  2. Kate,

    Funny how many voices reside in a writer’s mind, isn’t it? I like your “Other Me” and would like to borrow her for awhile as I’ll soon be plunging into writing a new book as well.

    Happy scribbling,