How many times has that question punched you in the chest over the years? It can be the little daily things like watching your dog, muck to the eyeballs, jumping over a freshly mopped floor, or driving through a massive puddle in your newly washed car, or giving your kids lollipops straight after a trip to the dentist’s. Those really grate on me. Every task, however small, can feel like a huge feat when you’re tired already. Especially if it means you need to start all over again.
Speaking of do-overs, I’ve been having a crisis over my latest attempt at novel number five. The plan was, write it in 2016/17, edit it 2017/18, publish in the summer. I’d finished my second edit, and had a few days of feeling like it was done.
Last week, a more experienced writer than me talked about choosing where to start your story. The beginning does not necessarily mean the beginning. It might all start in the middle, or even the end. What?! My story starts at the start, and follows a neat, linear pattern until the end. And I can’t bring myself to upend it. It’s like dog muck on a clean floor. I tried this morning, and failed. My next thing to do is to go through all the novels I admire, and justify my choice. If I find even one that starts not at the beginning, so help me.
If you have done something and later question why, affirm yourself with what you learnt through it, who is all the better for you having done it and why it was actually worthwhile, even if the outcomes were unsatisfactory.
It’s the process that matters, more than the end result. I got a lot of joy out of writing this story, and re-lived some of the pain too. I had to go through the process, step by step, holding on to the beginning through the middle and right to the end. Like a chain for your wrist where you pick up both edges to fasten it.
Interestingly, that’s where the story really begins and ends in my book. With a gold bracelet. So sorry if I am not adhering to a more clever way of storytelling. I’m just too fond of the way things were before. Including clean cars and floors…