Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Challenges of Crafting a New Beginning

I’ve told how my writing group started the ball rolling with the idea that I should start my story later—six months later, in fact. I think I’ve mentioned the confirmation I got about that through the conference last month (including my conference critique) and how I started feeling really good about the idea. I’ve got another blog started where I go into the reason it is such a good and even necessary idea.

But an idea’s simply being good and right doesn’t make it easy. One thing that helped me finally get started is that I haven’t gone about this by cutting anything. No, the old version(s) of the story are still in tact on my computer. What I did was start a brand new file, with a brand new name, and even in a brand new folder. I simply copy and paste what I want into the new file. That much has been good.

To give a bit of framework on which to hang some of the things I’m going to say, the story originally started with Sharon taking off with a charmer in the yellow convertible. Now it starts when she comes back months later. I’ve already surprised myself by how easy it was to write one sentence that fully covered the essentials of the first two chapters.

But that was the only thing that has been easy. By following this new plan, I have to introduce everything all over again—my characters, their relationships to one another, the setting of the story. This, I have found out, is much more difficult than it was covering those first two chapters in short order. The decisions have been harder than I imagined. How soon do I have to get the name of the town into the story? I’ve lost the good way I had before to communicate that the father in the story is dead. The opening conflict is between Sharon and Mollie—how soon do I have slip in the fact that Mollie has married Chris in the interim? How can I subtly communicate that Chris and Larry are best friends, not brothers?

And so it goes. Our local writers’ group is trying to “marathon” with our writing during this month of October. We can count our progress in number of words written or amount of time spent on it. By the very nature of what I’m doing, mine comes out a mixture of the two. My biggest challenge—okay, hindrance—so far is the fact that I do my “real” work at home as well, so I end up working on Tangled Strands in snatches that are never easy to measure on any scale.

So the one thing that is clear is that I haven’t really gotten off the ground with this challenge. I’ve done some racing down the runway, but so far I feel like the racing hasn’t come from the engine but from my feet out through the bottom of the plane, like that comical scene in The Gods Must Be Crazy 2. I don’t feel like the engine in my little plane has kicked in yet, and that makes most everything a struggle so far.

But I keep taking a deep breath and churning my legs down that runway. I have to believe that sooner or later, this little plane will become airborne.

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