But I'm struggling. I've decided to send in the first chapter of my middle-grade novel but have succumbed to "beginning-itis." That is, I keep changing the start. There's a lot of 'wanting' going on: wanting more of a hook; wanting the character's voice to shine through with more humour; wanting to avoid The List pitfall which is overdone in children's writing just now. As in:
- I initially wrote this in first person present tense.
- I changed it to first person past tense.
- I've just rewritten the beginning for the sixth time.
You get the idea.
As is my usual modus operandi when in freefall doubt, I hurried to my groaning bookshelves. (I own more writing books than most public libraries.) But today nothing was speaking to me. So I bundled the three-year-old into the car, with the promise of reading three million picture books, and sped off to the Central library--the one library that reasonably competes with my stack. There was one book in particular I wanted, but I left the library lugging seven tomes in my classy green library book tote.
Two of those books were by Michael Seidman. He used to be an editor for Walker and Co., and it was in that role I met him at a long-ago writing conference. (I don't remember much of that pitch, except that he was kind and a good listener and requested the first pages of my ms.) I believe he now works as an editorial consultant, at least if Google is to be believed.
I opened his book, Living the Dream, An Outline for a Life in Fiction. I hoped I'd find something for my scattered, anxious soul;
"Don't worry about failing, don't worry about being wrong. Enjoy what you're doing for the sake of doing it... And when you're done writing, when all the words are on the page, then look at them closely, examine each one and decide if it's the word that belongs there... Is what you've written better than what you wrote yesterday? Is there growth? Is there honesty? Is there you?"
Growth: you betcha. Honesty: darn tootin'. Me: I sure as hell hope so.
Somehow, that calmed me down.
I've got 48 hours to get the words right. Wish me luck.