Cheesy title, I know. But just go with it…it’ll make sense, I swear.
Tonight, I’m proud to say that I finished another chapter (much faster than usual, so that’s probably a good sign). I was sitting on the couch with Mom, watching something on the Food Network and after a short break I turned back to my laptop to start Chapter Fourteen. I stared at my outline, read the couple sentences I had written down regarding Chapter Fourteen’s events about a million times, stared at my computer, stared at my outline again…this went on for several minutes. And after groaning, and then explaining my reason for groaning to Mom, I realized something. Something I’ve known for a while, but just haven’t thought of that much…
I hate starting new chapters.
I love it too, but I REALLY hate starting new chapters. I love the feeling of moving forward…but I still hate starting new chapters. The reason for this is…I do this ritual every time. Fourteen times (well, fifteen, because of the prologue) during the course of writing this novel, I have spent a loooooooong time trying to start a new chapter. I figured out something tonight, though. It’s because each chapter is like its own story. And I’ve heard several times that the hardest part of writing is getting started (isn’t that the truth). So I finish a chapter…and then I turn to start a new one…and even though I know exactly what’s going to happen, I never have any idea how to start the story. So I sit there for minutes upon minutes upon minutes, staring at my outline and computer screen, willing my mind to form some opening that doesn’t sound completely stupid, something I haven’t already used before in the story, something that can get me going.
And then I find that opening. As soon as that happens, it’s all golden. For the most part, as soon as that happens, the chapter starts taking form and I know (more or less) exactly how I want to say what I’ve chosen to occur in the chapter. Yes, there are still rough spots…moments in the chapter when I’m not sure how to get to the next part…but nothing is as bad as when I’m first starting. So I write and write until I’ve told that chapter’s story. I bring it to a close. I celebrate a little–do a little dance, listen to a favorite song, treat myself to a snack. And then I type those fateful words: CHAPTER [INSERT NUMBER HERE]. I feel pretty good about myself…until I pick up that outline and read those few sentences. The whole cycle starts over again and I have to scour my brain for words I haven’t used…for something that’s not cheesy. But I keep going.
By the end of writing this first draft, I’ll have gone through this ritual twenty-six times, assuming all goes as planned. Once I finish, I’ll probably miss the cycle…I’ll probably miss getting frustrated by opening a new chapter. But then it’ll be time to come up with the next novel idea…and the cycle will pick up again with a new story, new outline, new characters. The cycle will never end, not as long as I keep writing. And I plan to write for a long time.