Thursday, January 03, 2013

Jumping Back Into Story: Beginning With the End

On this third day of the new year, I’ve been cleaning, organizing, lesson planning, enjoying time with the sweet girl, and generally trying to get well (still congested, still coughing). Now that end of term grading is done, I’m also trying to get back into the writing groove, but it’s taking a little longer than I anticipated.

What is it that makes jumping back into something creative so hard sometimes? Writing is the thing I love to do beyond all else, and yet when it’s been a while since I’ve regularly written – especially fiction – I can find all manner of things to put off the jump.

I used to think it was because my writing muscles weren’t well exercised. That may still be true, but it’s less true than it used to be since I do other kinds of writing regularly even when I’m not actively writing stories. Still, there is a different part of the brain (and hands) involved in writing non-fiction and even poems, so lack of regular exercise may still be part of it.

For me, I think it’s more often the realization that my jump can never be as deep as I’d like it to be. Although I’ve gotten better at writing in small spurts, out of necessity, I still write stories best when I can dive and dive deep for long, long stretches of time. That time is scarce at best and non-existent at worst some days. Knowing that I can’t give the time or attention needed makes me feel like I'm always “holding back” when I start. When you know there is a good chance you will be interrupted seven minutes in (and twelve, and sixteen, and nineteen) it’s just harder to leap with abandon.

Some of my hesitation may also come from the simple fact that I cannot shut a door. My writing space is in a corner of our living room. Even late at night, often my best writing time, when everyone else is in bed, there is still something that feels not private enough about the space. Add in that my crowded desk is cluttered with books and papers connected to all the different hats I wear in family and ministry, and it sometimes just doesn’t feel like the writerly space I need.

But enough whining. I am here to say, on the third day of the new year, that I need to dive back into story soon. And today I found a fascinating blog that provided me with some creative ideas to jumpstart my WIP. One of the most audacious ideas I found there was the suggestion that I write my story's final chapter now. Yes, now, when I am nowhere near writing the actual end, and when I don't know everything I need to know yet. The mere idea of doing this scares me in a delightful way.  I think I must feel a little bit like my ten year old did when she recently managed a 25 foot rock climb in a gym. When she landed on her feet at the bottom again, she clutched at her heart and announced "That was terrifying...AND awesome!" I suspect writing my last chapter now would feel just like that.

But the idea is resonating with me. Perhaps because a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I sat down and worked on plot points for my WIP -- moving from the end to the beginning. So I already feel as though I've been building from that perspective in my mind.


Erin said...

Hey, J. K. Rowling did that to some degree; you're in good company! :)

Beth said...

That's true, she did! But if I'm remembering rightly, she was even more audacious...she wrote the last chapter to the whole series while she was still working on the first book!