Begin

fall dandelion

A tiny galaxy nestled in the fallen leaves

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.

Fear of flying – writer style

Today’s guest post comes from Laura Foster-Bobroff, a talented writer and generous soul who has – happily! – been visiting Live to Write – Write to Live for a while. She’s become a personal friend of mine, and we just discovered that we share a passion for “flying” – trapeze style. We had a conversation one day about the similarities between writing and flying and I suggested she write a post for the blog. I’m so pleased that she did and hope that you enjoy it. Please make her feel welcome. 

I decided to become a writer two months before my fiftieth birthday.

After forty years of “informal” practice, it was high time I committed to making my dream come true. At first, my husband thought I was a little crazy. We were closing our remodeling business and, like many Americans, struggling financially with a mortgage under water and not enough income to sustain it.  I realized waiting for the perfect time to start writing was an excuse.  Do it, I told myself, it’s now or never.

Making the decision to be a writer was the equivalent of performing on a flying trapeze. A few years ago, my daughters begged me to buy lessons for them, and promptly backed out after standing on a platform thirty feet above ground. Substitute daredevil, up the ladder I climbed, rung by rung, determined to fly with gusto. “I’m not afraid,” I told my girls, trying to set an example. “Being off the ground on a tiny platform doesn’t scare me!” Halfway up, I looked down, hesitated, and then said to myself, “You can do this. You’re tough!”

I may be tough, but once I stepped onto the platform my breathing stopped and my heart started to beat abnormally fast. Confidence wavering, I began talking myself off the platform, “This is an impulsive whim – why are you doing this? You’re too old for this kind of risk. You’re not a professional and don’t have the skills. ‘’You could fall and get hurt.” (Sound familiar?)

On the edge, faced with failure, time stands still.  Fear and tension build. 

I so badly wanted to turn around and go down the ladder! Then I heard a click as I was tethered to the safety line and it occurred to me I had support: someone who had been where I was – felt fear and doubt – and managed to get through it, someone who learned to fly and was willing to help so I could share the experience.

Climbing the ladder, creating a platform we can step onto poses the greatest challenge for some writers; for others, leaving the platform behind to fly solo is daunting.  We can find support by reading blogs, inspirational stories, or sharing work with other writers or editors. By connecting with people who offer encouragement and reassurance we have a safety line. Most writers and editors are generous. They give tips on flying; instruct us on what works best. We only have to grab the bar and commit to making the jump no matter how scared we are. Above all, we need to remember there is a net to catch us if we fall. (And, we WILL fall!)

Someday I hope to be a writer as entertaining as a great trapeze artist gracefully performing daring tricks to the amazement of the world. For now, I’m holding onto the bar for dear life. Yet, despite my awkwardness, I feel exhilarated by the thrill of learning to fly. Heck, I’m even starting to accept falling because each day I stand hovering on the edge of my platform – unsure and exposed but jumping anyway – it reminds me I’m living the life of a writer.

Where do you find resources to motivate you to climb onto the platform?

What inspires you grab ahold of the bar and FLY?

Who reminds you that you have a safety net?

Laura Foster-Bobroff has been an assistant to a criminal defense attorney, a part-time editor, a special education advocate, and the proud owner of a green remodeling business.   She has two black belts, a pre-med science degree, and three children, including a challenged child. At age fifty, she made the momentous decision to do what she always wanted to do – write!  She now produces fiction and non-fiction work and rests by dabbling in the art of fused and frit glass and other artistic mediums. She thinks getting older is fantastic (even if she doesn’t have as much energy as she used to).