Starting Over


Not so long ago I mentioned that I’m starting a new book. I’m having a lot of fun thinking things through, getting to know my character, and fitting the events of this story in with what comes after in The Lore of Efrathah. I did mention the new one is a prequel to my four-book story, didn’t I?

The thing is, it takes place some 250 years earlier, so I need to figure out the history and what kinds of changes would be likely in the world.

Interestingly, as I’m putting this story together, I realize Lore is actually a kind of dystopian series, though I’m sure it doesn’t read like one.

Besides the fun, I’m finding myself hesitant to commit. Maybe I really am not ready to start the story yet, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m not simply experiencing “starting over” jitters.

Quite frankly, it’s uncomfortable to start over. I’m not on familiar ground any more. There are unknowns lurking at the bottom of every page, questions I don’t even know to ask yet. And playing in the back of my mind like a song I can’t shake is the real issue: Who are these people and how do all these ideas fit together into one cohesive story?

Like any number of others, I’ve used the metaphor of weaving a story together — particularly in talking about the theme. If you misplace that thread by putting it in too prominent a place, readers will think you’re being preachy, but if you push it too far in the background, it will lose all potency. It’s a good picture — threads everywhere, and trying to get them all through the loom in the right order.

Then there are all the technique things I know now that I didn’t know when I started my last book. Can I layer my plot and incorporate appropriate subplots that will enhance the theme? Will my character’s inner conflict play well with the external conflict?

So with the doubts swirling in my head and the satisfaction of preparation, I wonder if I’m missing the important point of starting over — actually getting words down. That first sentence, first paragraph, first page.

Will I know when I have all I need to actually start? Will there be nothing left to do but flesh out the scenes that have started to form in my head?

Sometimes I wish writers could apprentice, like craftsmen of old used to do. Then I could ask a wise, experienced author how it will be, when I will know. But the thing about writing, it’s not the same experience for everyone.

I know some writers who would rather sit down and start writing so they can get to know their character, the world, the bit players, the backstory. I understand that. I learn a lot when I write. It forces me to think things through before I can set them down in a coherent way.

But when it comes to fiction, I don’t know enough to start writing until I get some of those questions answered. Otherwise, I’m writing the same character, the same problems, just clothed with different made up skin.

So here I am, at the cusp of a new beginning, and I’m wondering, how will I know when it’s time to jump.

As I said, I learn as I write, so as I finished that last sentence, it dawned on me that as a Christian, I don’t have to worry about even such a thing because I’m not in this venture alone, any more than I’m in any other part of daily living alone. He who began a good work in me — that refining process to make me like His Son, Jesus Christ — isn’t going to walk away with the job half done. So whatever He wants to do with my writing will be part of that ultimate purpose.

Then these verses came to mind:

Deut. 31:6 – Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

Deut. 31:8 – The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Yes, I know. Those verses weren’t written to writers. Moses said this to Israel and to Joshua before they crossed over the Jordan into the land God was giving them. But like every other verse of Scripture, these have been given to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness.

How much more should I who have the Holy Spirit living in my life be able to count on the truth that God will not fail or forsake me? Consequently, in the face of starting over, I don’t need to fear or be dismayed.

Published in: on February 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm  Comments (8)  
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