I have a giant plastic tub of notebooks in my office that are filled with middles. I have written dozens of pages of what I thought were fascinating scenes, incredible cliffhangers, witty dialogue exchanges – lots of middles, but no beginnings or ends. I can’t bring myself to part with them, but I also can’t bring myself to do anything with them. I can barely look at them. I sat down with one of the notebooks today and blushed/laughed hysterically at some of the unmitigated crap that I once thought was deeply, hauntingly poignant.
I am literally wrinkling my nose in disgust, hours later, while writing about it. <shudder>
Despite my embarrassment, I’m sure it’s not all crap. There’s bound to be a sentence, a snappy retort, or a great character name somewhere in there that’s worth an attempt at resuscitation. In a way, looking at where I’ve been is helping me figure out where I want to go.
I’m lousy at coming up with beginnings and endings. I think maybe it’s because I feel like there’s a sort of finality about them, as if they’re unchangeable once they’re on paper. I’ve never outlined a creative work before starting it… maybe that’s part of my problem? Or maybe I just should get out of my own way and let the story work frontwards or backwards or whatever way it wants to come out.
“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway