Standing At the Brink

02 June 2012

"The beginning is the most important part of the work."

Beginnings are hard places, and the emotions they carry with them are hard to capture on a piece of paper. I always imagine a new beginning like a large, brightly-wrapped package with mysterious contents. You feel sure that this gift will contain wondrous opportunities and experiences that one thousand words could not describe . . . but you refuse to open it. Like Pandora's box, it could just as easily bring disease instead of health, heartache instead of happiness, and tears instead of smiles. There is no way to know, and we are forced to either live our lives never knowing what could have happened or take the plunge and find out.

Writing is an experience that can be related to life in so many ways. Right at this moment, Bree and I are plotting a new story idea. Nothing like a new book has the power to put me in this hurricane of emotions, especially when I have no idea whether it will be destined to remain a distant memory on my Mac or turn into a worldwide best-seller. It is like walking on sacred ground — Azin is the sort of girl who trembles at a rustle in the leaves, and one must learn about her in a slow, roundabout manner, rather than asking questions directly. Her heart is so torn up from the experiences of her childhood that she cannot speak about them for long bouts of time, and must be tempted with multiple cups of tea before she begins speaking at all. It can be a trying process.

Nearly every day this week I have sat down with Cosette (my Mac), intent on typing up that intimidating Chapter One that decides straight away the destiny of your story . . . only to be forced to close down Microsoft Office Word and turn away with a reluctant and discouraged sigh. Azin's head is not open often — although she is growing less timid by the day — and you have to catch her at just the right moment. In my case, the elusive present that could bring either joy or pain is not just mysterious: it's missing. I know it is somewhere — I can sense that something wonderful is just at my fingertips — but no matter how hard I look, I cannot find it. And here I stand, caught between the desire to write, the knowledge that a new idea is just blooming, and the despair that I will never be able to begin.

The proverbial brink is a frightening and lonesome place at which to be. No one stands behind me, tensing their muscles to push me over; I am alone, with only the wind above me and waves below me for company. My choice must be entirely my own, and the results, whether good or bad, will be on my shoulders alone. Of course, I can always back swiftly away, turning homeward to the small cottage of Familiarity. But even those well-worn walls and floors cannot contain me or my imagination forever. The things that once seemed so lovely and comforting now look dull and pale. I am forced back to the edge of the cliff out of sheer need, my heart longing for a change. And once more, I am faced with the choice: do I dare to jump into the waves of the unknown?

There's only one way to find out.

"My name is Azin." The girl said no more, and even those four words were spoken with some measure of hesitation, as if she questioned their validity.

7 epistles:

  1. This is fascinating! I can't wait to hear more, Lizzy!

  2. I am so excited to hear you are going to write another book! I figured you were but wasn't sure.

    Not being a writer myself, I can only imagine the emotions that go along with writing a book but I know you pour your heart into whatever you do and I will be thinking and praying for you as you set out on this exciting new venture. Just keep reminding yourself of how impossible VAB seemed at the start...

    Love ya,

  3. I think I know that feeling . . . just starting a new book myself . . . your want it all to come clear with your character, but it takes lots of time! I hope it turns out wonderfully!

  4. I definitely know how you feel, Elizabeth!!
    When you're at the brink of writing something, with all those emotions, those fears bounce at you and you feel so word-bound, so scared that if you take this road... the idea will fall to the ground. But if you don't jump, as you said, it can never fly, it can never become the world-wide bestseller.

    I'm learning that yes, there is no one to help us at the edge, with all those choices, but God is there with us, guiding us through the journey of writing. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to hearing about your new story!!

  5. definitely jump ! It is the most hard and exciting thing. I know how this feels, like the words are taunting you with the possibilities they bring but when you give in to them they disappear from you like an apparition intent on having its way. I hope the words come soon, I know the torture of this shadow land you traverse, but you'll come to the light soon enough. Is Azin the main character ? I know what it feels like to have a troubled character, one that wont open up to you. I loved your post by the way,
    Blessings ~ Rachel Hope

  6. Yes, I know what you feel like, Elizabeth - beginning a new book is hard! I am a writer as well, and I can relate to what you are going through. Familiarity is good, yet the unknown (at least regarding writing!) can be wonderful. Please keep us updated on your book and characters! Have you decided on a title for your book? Sometimes characters refuse to work with us...

    There is a wonderful writing book out there (available on Amazon) called "A Novel Idea: Best Advice on Writing Inspirational Fiction". It's written by lots of best-selling authors, and I highly recommend this book. Although I don't agree with all of the books they draw samples from in "A Novel Idea", the book itself is well-worth reading and has really improved my writing.

    With love in Christ,

    P.S. You did a really good job on writing this post - I really enjoyed how it was worded!

  7. I enjoyed your guest post on Miss Georgiana Darcy's blog. I have the same feelings about writing! And... naming your computer Cosette? That's just spectacular. Anytime I run into that name, I automatically know where it came from, so I'm happy to happen across another Les Miserables fan. :)

    Somewhere in the bookcase,
    ~ Tarissa


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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