Sunday, October 26, 2008

"It's only the beginning ..."

My dear, never-finished, First Act,

I sat down to write today, and my iTunes random playlist coughed up a dust-covered tune from 1991-  Deborah Conway's  It's Only the Beginning. 

It's only the beginning
But I've already gone and lost my mind
I feel like making daisy chains
And playing hide 'n' seek

When it's only the beginning
The fairy dust is still in flight
And this could be the love of a 
lifetime, even if lasts a week

Or maybe just a daydream ...

I listened to those lyrics in stunned, sweaty silence; for, my dear First Act, they could have been written for us. 

We have a toxic relationship, a sick co-dependency, you and I. Oh, I can hear you tutting beneath your breath - "How dare she watch Dr Phil when she should be writing ME!" But whatever psycho-babble label you wish to apply, it is clear that you are my addiction, my vice, and for the sake of the manuscript, not to mention my sanity, I must break free of your seductive clutches.

Oh, but you're a hard habit to break. The intoxication of finishing you for the first time is still such a sweet memory. You were complete, you were just as I had envisioned you would be, and you were perfect. The time had come for us to part. I felt a pang at letting you go, but you were strong,  you would be fine without me.

But you would not let me go. You hounded me with frantic whispers, day and night - you'd fallen apart; your meticulously woven tapestry of elegant prose now resembled a moth-eaten dish rag; your plot, once water-tight in its logic, now leaked credibility like a sieve. You would be so, so much better if only I'd come back, you sobbed. If only I'd re-write you. 

Ego stroked, I dumped poor Act Two like a hot potato and back I went. I could not ignore you - you were, after all, my first love.

So I tinkered with your opening chapters. Started in medias res, started with dialogue, started on a train, started with a fight, started in Paris, started in London, started with the villain doing his evil worst ... Every time I'd come close to finishing, convinced that this time I'd got you right and I now had the perfect beginning, you'd lay on the guilt - "Don't leave me! I'm a much better First Act when you're around. Stay, and make me perfect." So  I re-wrote you again, and again, and again, adding and subtracting scenes like a woman possessed. And maybe I was. Possessed with the notion that I must write the perfect first act before I could move on. 

But the scales have fallen from my eyes. I know now that you are my crutch; that I will never move forward if I keep working on you; that I will never finish this manuscript if I keep working on you; that I will never, ever, have to discover whether I can actually write a whole damn novel, if I kept working on you.

So I'm breaking up with you until the book is done. 

Aw, don't cry. It's not you - it's me.

You'll be fine, my brilliantly flawed First Act. You're stronger than you think. And I'll be back when it's time for revisions.

But for now, it's a definite "adieu".


Kristen said...

Here are some chocolates to help you through the break up. :-)

Some say you can't write the beginning of a story until you know the end of it -due to the cyclical nature of most stories.


Rachel said...

Aw, thanks! I've eaten half a tub of ice cream, too, so I'm feeling much better. Fatter, but better.

Hmm, wise words from a wise woman. Methinks you are right.

But I just worry that the cycle of my story is nothing more than a squeaky old hamster wheel ...

Jennifer Hendren said...

LMAO...oh man, do I know this feeling. (g) Chin up -- you CAN move on. :)

Rachel said...

I just need will power, Jen. Will power. Would you believe I've come up with _yet_ another opening? I'm not writing it, though. It's a bunch of scribbled dot points, and shall stay that way until I've finished the damn SFD!

Deniz Bevan said...

Oh Rachel! This is it! This is what I'm going through with my MS right now! Maybe it's time for a clean break and a fresh look at things...

Rachel said...

Deniz - it warms my heart to have company in my misery (g). But if I can let go, so too, can you. Be free, Deniz, be free! (g)