The blank page is your adversary, the pen your sword. But this is not a battle that can be won with might. It is less a duel, more a dance. Unable to find the rhythm, you falter. Your first advance glances off the surface of your thoughts, failing to penetrate to the deeper truth. You’ve missed the connection with your partner – your muse – and your words lie awkward and stilted on the page, a childish attempt to capture the grace of the fencer, the artistry of the dancer.
You retrace your steps, backing over those first words, setting up to try again. False start after false start leaves you exhausted and disoriented. The idea, once so beguiling, that lured you to the dance floor has left you standing out there alone. The music is playing. Everyone is watching. You know that the dance commences with a first step, but you have lost your way.
You don’t know how to begin.
It’s ok. Everything will be all right.
A dance is just a dance. A story is just a story. You can begin anywhere.
Begin with your mother’s blueberry pie.
Begin with the vibration of yellow birch leaves against a sharp blue October sky.
Begin with your first Valentine.
Begin with your last kiss.
Begin with the letter you wrote, but never sent.
Begin with the words you said, but wish you hadn’t.
Begin with a broken arm, a broken promise, a broken heart.
Begin with a frog prince.
Begin with a princely frog.
Begin with hope or tragedy or joy.
Begin with the lunchbox you had when you were eight.
Begin with the house you thought you’d have by now.
Begin with a secret.
Begin with the story your father used to tell you at bedtime.
Begin with a riddle.
Begin with murder.
Begin with a magic word.
Begin with an ordinary day.
Begin with the footfalls of a cat.
Begin with a letter in a bottle.
Begin with the color red.
Begin with a dandelion.
Begin with a subway ride.
Begin with the sound of water dripping.
Begin with someone saying hello.
It doesn’t really matter where you begin, just that you begin. The dance and the story both go on and on forever. There is no real beginning and no real ending. You can cut in at any point along the way. There is no wrong first step. The only mistake you can make is failing to begin.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
50 thoughts on “Begin”
You are my hero, Jamie. I needed this today. Almost played hooky from my writing practice today, and now I’m glad I didn’t. Time to begin.
So glad you’re not playing hooky because I love reading what you write! 🙂
The only promising thing to make something happen is to commence the work. Absolutely well said. thank u
So true. Begin, and then begin again. 😉
Pingback: Begin | Authentic Diva
Thank you for the inspiration. It is true. BEGIN ANYWHERE!!! I’m going to remember that from now on. I really needed a boost, now I got one.
Wonderful! Always happy to offer a virtual leg up! 😉
Thank you. U r very kind
Reblogged this on Authentic Diva and commented:
Thank you, Suddenly Jamie! Reblogging your great post.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
thank you so much. just what i need these days. 🙂
Excellent. Happy writing!
Reblogged this on Would The Bones Dance? and commented:
Beautiful composition, and so true.
Thanks so much, Asha. 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to say so. 🙂
So although Julie Andrews taught us to begin at the beginning because it is a very good place to start, there is another way. I just began writing a story with chapter two, because I just couldn’t find a way to start chapter one: guess what….now I know how to start chapter one. It worked!
That’s excellent! Thanks for sharing your real world experience. Good to know. 🙂
I love this post! Yes, just beginning is a giant leap into the dance.
I’m tempted to do a series of short-short stories or poems, each with one of the beginnings you’ve noted. But not until after November. I have enough challenges going on in November. 😉
Ooh! What a great idea (poems or short stories for the prompts in the post).
Too busy in November? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Brave!!
I’m doing NaNo and the daily blogging challenge, so a lot of writing this month.
The writing of poems or short stories according to prompts like this is always interesting, in the sense that I never know whether to post them on my blog or not. On the one hand, posting on the blog helps hold me accountable. On the other, a lot of journals won’t publish such “previously published” work, so it limits my ability to submit the creations after. It’s a toss up, but the challenge is always valuable either way. 🙂
I really love this post. Very lyrical and poetic. Thanks for the inspiration!
Thanks so much, Tracy, and thanks for the retweet as well!
This was a fun one to write. No secret – definitely giving myself a pep talk! 😉
Well said! Love this inspiring post! 🙂
Thanks so much. Happy to be part of your inspiration for the day. 🙂
Totally agree. Very inspiring!
Reblogged this on The Starving Artist. and commented:
‘the pen your sword’ I like the sound of that.
It’s good to have a sword, right? 🙂
Duuuuuuuuuuuuude I have had so many false starts, so glad I’m not the only one to retrace my steps during the crazy writing process. Love the “begin” sentences.
Even false starts eventually lead somewhere! 🙂
Republicou isso em Blog do Pimenta.
I always have to start somewhere. I would probably die if a kidnapper plopped me down with my laptop and commanded me to write, unless it were 8:30 in the morning. Then, I would live. He would have to drag me away, kicking and screaming. Silent
So … you’re a morning writer? 🙂 Me, too. Nighttime is tough for me, but give me an early start and I can go all day!
I both hate and love that blank page. The blank page is filled with two things both anxiety and excitement. The anxiety fills you with words like “how can I call myself a writer when I can’t even think of a story?!!” but there is also a level of excitement. Seeing that blank page is the first step on the adventure. You get excited by the things you might do or could do, but you are also afraid of the failures that might lay down the road. The blank page can be both a writer’s friend and enemy at the same time
I agree. There is something beautiful and pristine about a blank page – that as yet unknown adventure. But, I also think that it’s important we get in there and muck it up as soon as possible. 😉
Reminds me of the way Ann Patchett described the unwritten story as a beautiful butterfly that she can’t help but kill and mangle in her effort to pin it to the page: https://nhwn.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/writers-block-cause-4-and-big-hope-your-vision/
Reblogged this on Heartafire.
you really nailed it! love your text. Heart
Thanks so much & thanks for sharing! 🙂
You are a busy lady! I’m loving NaNoWriMo 2013, and have 33,000 words already. It’s almost time to get back to it today. 🙂
I may be busy, but you’re productive! Congrats on 33K words already. That’s awesome. TKS for coming by. 🙂
🙂 What a nice compliment coming from such a successful woman. 🙂
Reblogged this on gerri ravyn stanfield and commented:
In honor of National Novel Writing Month. In gratitude for the writers who saved my life with their great ideas. In anticipation of the writing projects I am committed to finishing this year. Thanks for the reminder, Jamie Lee Wallace. Let it Begin!
Good luck with all your finishing and all your new beginnings! 🙂
🙂 Thank you!
Pingback: Saturday Edition – What We’re Writing and Reading | Live to Write - Write to Live
Pingback: Four and Twenty | Andrea Blythe
Pingback: Autumn | Andrea Blythe
Pingback: Friday Flash: Resident Ghost | Andrea Blythe