…starts with a single word.
Or, more accurately, a single page.
I’ve written the first page of the book today, and while that doesn’t sound like a lot, it is. One of the biggest problems I’ve been having is finding my “voice”–the tone, rhythm, and breathing of the book. The same story can be written in dozens of different ways just by changing the tone and focus–is it an adventure book? is it a love story? is it a travel guide? There are so many aspects to the AIDS Ride that I could go in dozens of ways.
I was wrestling with whether to make it a Mount Everest-type story (585 Miles in 7 Days!), a grappling story about overcoming-internal-challenges (I Was a Drug Addict, Now I’m an AIDS Rider), a story about AIDS, about cycling, whatever. Believe me, there are at least two or three hundred ways of writing this story and I think I’ve tried every single one of them by now.
But I think I’ve decided. It’s a love story.
Which is a bit of a surprise, since I had planned to write the book about courage–not the adrenaline rush that sends people into burning buildings, but courage of conviction, of compassion–to overcome one’s own boundaries, to push beyond what one thought was possible. But in the end, I think the ride is really a love story–about people loving and caring for each other, supporting each other while doing something damn near impossible. And people who care enough to do something so difficult to support others.
So anyway, having found my “voice”, I’m now writing. I have the introductory paragraphs for five riders so far–I’m not quite sure where I’ll put them, but I know I’ll need them, so I’m writing them regardless. Once I have those written, then I’ll start the description of Opening Ceremonies.
I frankly expect to throw away most of this writing–a piece of writing evolves as it grows, and the early parts don’t match the tone of the ending ones, so they generally get tossed away. But the irony of the thing is, of course, that you cannot get to the end parts, the final tone, without writing those first few throwaway pages. It’s an evolutionary process. So you have to write the pages even knowing you’ll throw them away.
I still think 90% of writing–or doing anything for that matter–is not worrying about whether it’s perfect or whether it fits or whether it can be done, and simply doing it.
It won’t be perfect. You’ll throw away stuff that looks lopsided, ill-favored, whatever. But you have to do it. You have to produce the lopsided, six-year-old dribbly clay sculpture before you can sculpt Michelangelo. It’s just how it works. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just the process working itself through.
So anyway, I’ve made my start, and even though I know I’ll probably toss it later, it’s a good beginning, and I like it. Tomorrow I’ll continue writing.
Oh, and today I finished spinning and plying 215 more yards of yarn for this spiral shawl. The whole skein weighs only 11.7 grams (a bit under half an ounce). I think it’s enough to finish the shawl. Tomorrow I’ll start knitting the shawl’s border.
If I didn’t mention it before, by the way, I’m looking for a job in the Bay Area, and you can find my resume here. If you see something you think would suit, let me know. (My specialties are product and project management, but I’m open to new things, too.)
…starts with a single word.