In the last two weeks, I’ve started seven stories. Some are just a few paragraphs. Others have a few scenes. Each one starts me imagining a different world with new characters, and beyond what shows up on the page, all kinds of acrobatics spin in my mind. Will I finish all of these stories? No. I may not finish any of them, which is fine. These are explorations and dabbles, not assignments. These are about writing when I don’t know what I’m writing and trusting that time spent on this process is necessary and worthwhile. This work keeps me being a writer when my main project is on hold, awaiting feedback.
Because it can be difficult to silence the critical voice in the back of my mind, the one that demands productivity and results, I remind myself to think small. I can try a story. It doesn’t have to be a full novel. It can be small and just my own. Today, with the seventh story, I felt a different degree of hooking inside me, and the situation seemed to blossom in an especially likely way. Tomorrow, if it still seems inviting, I’ll keep going, but if not, I’ll start another story.
Starting is the hard part. Starting is everything. I wonder if there’s a story about starting.