I’m having a very writerly problem. I can’t seem to get going on my YA novel manuscript. See – I put it on the back burner to attend to some edits on a middle grade project for my agent. You’d think once the edits were done and the manuscript turned over, I’d just pick up where I left off, right? Ha. No so much.
With the finished manuscript in capable hands – and lots of waiting and nail-biting to do – I started this blog. And as some of you know, blogging is addictive. So it is easy to keep putting off working on RLR (my code name for The YA Novel That Is Languishing On My Laptop).
Confession: Even thinking about opening the file makes me a little queasy lately. I get a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and my mind jack rabbits to about 32 other things I should/could/ought to be doing. Folding laundry. Walking the dog. Hounding a kid about homework. Washing my hair. Planting geraniums in neat little rows in someone else’s back yard.
The good news: I think I’ve managed to identify part of the problem. I read like a maniac – sometimes as many as 3 or 4 novels in a week in addition to all other necessary activities (see above) – oh, and a full time job. And lately, I don’t think I’ve read a book I haven’t liked. And even if I didn’t LOVE it, I still found things to learn from the author about craft. Each time I put down a novel I’ve really enjoyed, I think RLR will never be that gripping. Or funny. Or beautiful.
I know…I bet most writers have these evil, self-defeating thoughts. I’m not unique in this problem. I need to get the heck over it.
And I’m not going to let READING become the reason I’m not WRITING. (Shaking my head and rolling my eyes at myself.)
So here’s what I’m doing tonight. I grabbed a stack of random MG and YA books that were sitting around my kitchen. And I’m going to read the first sentence – just the first – and write it down here. I’m going to prove to myself that beginnings are possible. That even if the first sentence I have in my manuscript right now isn’t perfect (truly – it pretty much sucks) that I can overcome and write a beginning equal to these random authors. And what follows beginnings? Well, the rest of the story, of course.
Wish me luck!
I remember the day the Aluet ship came to our island. Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell, 1960.
Once when I was in ninth grade, I had to write a paper on a poem. (first line of the prologue) Blood Promise, Richelle Mead, 2009
Until the age of twelve, I led what most people would consider an unexceptional life. Kiki Strike Inside the Shadow City, Kirsten Miller, 2006
“You don’t look much like your sister,” Chip said, bouncing the basketball low against the driveway. Found, Margaret Peterson Haddix, 2008
Zach Freeman woke out of a deep sleep to see his butt perched on the ledge of his bedroom window. The Day My Butt Went Psycho, Andy Griffiths, 2001
It’s a perfect night to run away, thought Fadi, casting a brooding look at the bright sheen of the moon through the cracked backseat window. Shooting Kabul, N. H. Senzai, 2010
So – there are a couple I really like, and a few that aren't gripping or funny or beautiful. Which means – I should suck it up and just write. And quit fussing. And …um…believe in my writing. Yeah. Believe. It’s a beginning.
PS -- There are no psycho butts in my book. Just sayin'.