Sunday, August 31, 2008

Climbing Mount Everest

Tomorrow's a big day; a scary day; a wonderful day. Tomorrow is the day I begin writing my third novel, and it's such a huge project staring me in the face that I'm terrified.

It's what I imagine it would be like to know you're scheduled to start climbing Mount Everest the next day, but for now you're sitting at your base camp staring up at this huge rock towering over you and wondering how you will ever manage to accomplish your goal. Minus the physical exertion, of course. And the cold. I hate being cold.

But you get the point, right? Tomorrow I begin another 100,000-word adventure and I have only the vaguest notion of how it will turn out. Oh, I know I can do it; after all, I've written two novels before, so it's not as unsettling as the feeling I had before I started the first one.

That was truly an unknown. Prior to two years ago, the longest thing I had ever written was about fifteen pages in length, and that was a research paper I churned out in college, which was, well, let's put it this way: the idea that anyone could have their own computer to write on - in their house! - was simply ludicrous. I banged that bad boy out on my portable typewriter, that's how long ago it was.

So anyway, thanks to my recent history I know I can write this book that I will be starting tomorrow. I've even written a full outline, which by the day after tomorrow will undoubtedly be forgotten as I go off in thus far unforeseen directions. But it's still hard to get started; the task seems overwhelming until you have at least put a little bit down on paper that you can look at and say, "Ah, I'm partway done!"

I've discovered that writing a novel-length manuscript is like tobogganing down a hill in the winter - It takes a really good, strong push to get started, but once you've established a little momentum, you get going faster and faster until it becomes impossible to stop, unless of course you hit a tree. Hopefully I won't hit a tree, but who really knows?

Okay, I'm all done with the outdoor metaphors - the Mount Everest climbing, tobogganing stuff; at least for now. It's time to start thinking of my first sentence. I know, "It was a dark and stormy night." There, I feel better already - I'm partway done!

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