There is nothing scarier for a writer than staring at a blank computer screen, unsure where to start. Fingers, type something! Type anything. Truly, anything will do. Nora Roberts said so, and that lady knows a little something about writing books. Paraphrasing Nora here: you can edit poor word choices, but you can’t edit a blank page. She is so right. I’d better get crackin’.
I’m starting a new book, I’ve written fourteen other novels and should have the confidence to forge ahead without a second thought. But it doesn’t work that way. At least not for me nor for many other writers in my orbit.
I look at that blank screen and feel my heart race, my palms sweat. Oh, my God. I’ve got to come up with about 300 pages of story. I have to introduce fabulous characters and new conflicts to be resolved. I have to take readers on such an emotional ride that they won’t stop reading until the very last page. At this point my stomach hurts, too. I visualize a tall, teetering pile of manuscript pages that should emerge at some point and have to take a deep breath. I need a pep talk. So I give one to myself.
Calm down. You can do this. You’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again. You love to make stuff up. You love getting to know new characters and figuring them out. You love making them work for the ending they deserve. I keep talking and listening. Everything I’m saying is entirely true. But that insecure little devil in me challenges: Aw, come on. It’s hard work.It nags at you 24/7. Do you really think you can do it again?
I’ve got the hero in mind. I’d met him a few years ago in Pilgrim Cove. A widower who’d recently gone through a broken engagement. I’d left him alone with his little girl, and ever since, readers have been after me to give Adam his happy ending. Okay, now is the time. But who would be the right woman for him? A woman who’d challenge him and drive him crazy? A woman he can’t stop thinking about? She has to be the perfect match for Adam.
I scroll halfway down the first page. My fingers rest on the home keys, and I slowly type Chapter One. I double space and Indent. I’m ready to start Page One, Paragraph One, Sentence One.
Would she use the ramp or try the stairs?
And suddenly, I’m back in Pilgrim Cove, where the ocean is at your doorstep and the residents are in your business. I’ve got a handle on this woman, but I’ll get to know her better when I see how she reacts to the situation she’s in. And the situations I throw at her.
Once again, I’m engrossed in creating a story, in finding out what happens next. I’m not thinking about the number of pages in the whole book. At this moment, I’m thinking only about Chapter One, Scene One. This time my heart’s racing with excitement. I’m having fun! Again.
Are there activities that scare you, but that you want to try anyway? A parachute jump? Living in another country for a time? Or, perhaps writing a book?
POST A COMMENT AND YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED INTO THE JUNE DRAWING FOR GREAT PRIZES. The winner will receive TWO of the books shown here (your choice), all written by the members of On Fire Fiction as well as a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or BN (your choice).
All of these books are traditional romances. Some are funny, some are more serious in tone. You can browse them at your favorite etailer and Look Inside the Books. You might be the winner!
As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.