I am actually giddy! Not giddy in the “giddy-up-and-go” sense, but more in the “holy crap this is exciting” sense. You may ask why I would feel this way, all the while picturing a guy jumping up and down clapping his hands in girlish glee (or more likely say, “This guys an idiot!” and move on). For those of you still reading, I’ll explain further.
Ten years ago (the title of this did say “Let’s Start at the Very Beginning. You were warned!) I had a story idea, or more to the point, I had an idea for some characters. I kind of knew who they were and I had some ideas for the plot to bring them together.
Naturally (only a writer would say that, normal people would say nice, but why bother), I decided to write a story. So I plunked down with my pad of paper (very low tech) and tried to write an attention-grabbing first chapter.
The trouble was, I couldn’t quite come up with the first sentence, forget about the whole chapter. Over the following days (then months, then finally years), I wrote that chapter to various stages of completion thirty-one (yes thirty-one) times, but it never quite jelled or seemed good enough. Clear so far? Great!
So let’s get back to why I’m giddy for a moment. Today, I have just three chapters left until the book (yes, its an actual book, not just a thinly plotted story anymore) is complete. Well its first draft anyway.
Is one of the remaining chapters the first? Happily no. Am I convinced that my chapter one is the best first chapter ever? Absolutely not, but it does seem to provide enough of a hook that my captive audiences (see, tied to a chair with eye-lids duct-taped open) have continued reading.
Still, at this point in the Adventure (doesn’t the word adventure translate to grueling, time-consuming, frustrating chain of events?) it’s important to remember the beginning. How did I get past the first-chapter writer’s block?
In actual point-of-fact, I was forced to move on. I finally realized I needed help to overcome the problem. While admitting you need help is important, I decided to take a writing course to get said assistance. One of the early lessons (after the all-important plot the entire story lesson) was to send in a completed first-chapter. Since the course had a time-limit and I didn’t want to throw my money away, I was forced to draw a line in the sand (so-to-speak).
I wrote, agonized and rewrote two chapters actually. I thought the first would be a prologue to the rest of the story. With great anxiety, I packaged those first chapters and sent them off to my writing mentor. His response came back a few weeks later.
Surprisingly to me, his comments weren’t the derogatory commentary on my feeble skills that I expected (and feared). Equally surprising, I found out that the prologue (in his opinion anyways) was really Chapter One. The truly amazing thing was that I suddenly found that not only was Chapter One done (after 6+ years), but so was Chapter Two.
With that discovery, I was able to finally move forward and start writing the actual story. Was it easy going from there on? HELL NO! Lots of Adventures (see above definition) and new learnings were to be had. But I took two very important lessons away from that first chapter success: set solid, hard timelines for your different milestones (chapters in my case) and when the going gets tough, slog on through (the results might appear to be crap, but you’re onto the next chapter. You can always fix it later).
So here I am, almost done the first stage of the journey with many more in front of me. It’s truly appropriate that I begin here, because, from a pure blogging perspective, this is my Chapter One. With luck, I’ve captured your interest enough that you’ll be back for Chapter Two.
Keep the faith.