Yesterday I took a pile of editing and a pile of notes and went to the coffeeshop in nearby SnootyTown. Sometimes I need a change of scene and SnootyTown has a grocery store I like. In addition to a change of scene, I also needed groceries. I gingerly parallel parked between an SUV and a Mercedes (don’thittheMercedes, don’thittheMercedes) and tucked myself into the back of the cafe with my two piles and a good cup of coffee.
I am trying to write a summary of what happens in each chapter a la Anne Lamott. I have my first scene, but there are a thousand places I can go after that. Which is the best? I want to tell you all these things all at once. How can I choose? They all belong! I gnashed my teeth, stared out at the gray afternoon, and secretly judged all the SnootyPantses around me.
(I do this a lot. Who are these people who have nowhere else to be on a Thursday afternoon? And I am aware that I am a giant hypocrite. Moving along.)
Driving home, I felt only disgust and despair. Anne Lammott says she wrote 500-1000 words on each chapter. I had written 200 words, and they fizzled into nothing, unable to support their own weight or continue with their own momentum. How would I ever get this shit done? Bleargh. At least I had tortillas.
Maybe I was asking too much of myself. “DP, maybe I should just try to write 250 words every day. Eventually I have to get a chapter that works, right?”
“Mm-hm,” DP said, secretly hoping I would go away and leave him to listen to his Smithsonian Folkways music in peace.
That’s when the epiphany hit. (And, thank god, I really needed an epiphany.) Don’t start with the first chapter. The beginning is always the hardest. And so I wrote 200 words about the second chapter. I haven’t read them this morning, but they came easy. I knew what I was heading in the right direction; I didn’t have to commit hari kari on my thumb drive just yet.
What keeps you from throwing yourself on your sword?
And don’t forget to enter the Kill your Darlings contest!