Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Magic of Beginnings by Liz Flaherty

Roses and Readers, please join me in welcoming Liz Flaherty to the blog today.



And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. ~ Meister Eckhart

          This explains why, although I have only nine-going-on-ten published books and just a few old and forever-unsold manuscripts, I have a virtual drawerful of Chapter One through Chapter Threes. Some of them, it must be said, I regret not finishing—Molly Linden’s story still wakes me in the middle of the night occasionally with an insomnia-inducing “what if you did this instead of that?” mantra.
          Most of those beginnings, though, shouldn’t really have happened. They are what I did when I got to Chapter Six or Chapter Eight of the work in progress and...oh, crap, it wouldn’t go anywhere. It is the occasional plight of a pantser, when the whole flying by the seat of said pants runs out of gas and you’re grounded because you have no conflict. Your hero lacks oomph. You have no black moment—not even a dove gray one that will darken the horizon before, voila, the sun of the happily ever after starts struggling up over the land line.
          A reason I’m here—aside from the fact that I really love writing blog posts and Brenda said I could come and take her day—is that my editor just called the other day and offered a contract for my next book in the Harlequin Heartwarming line. I spent the afternoon zipping around like one of those battery bunnies, meeting my husband at the door with “guess what!” and planning (several times) how I would spend my advance. This was my behavior on the first sale—why should the 10th be any different?
          I don’t have a release date yet, and goodness knows my title of The Winter of Letting Go, probably won’t stick, but the word “contract” gives instant birth to the word “promotion.” So, by all means, remember I have a book coming out...er...sometime with the title of...er...something, and I hope you enjoy it a lot. Oh, and here’s my whole backlist at a glance: http://ow.ly/Hqpd3
          Okay, commercial’s over—back to beginnings. The book I just sold was shockingly difficult to write. It took ten months or so, not a really long time for me, but it seemed longer. Because I had trouble with those things I listed up there: the conflict, the oomph, the black moment. Because one time I closed the file and mentally consigned it to that drawer of beginnings. Well, not exactly one time—it was more like a dozen times.
          But every morning, I opened the file again. And there is a lesson in this. Not for everyone, but definitely for me.
          Beginnings, as the starting quote of this post says, are magic. When it is the right time. When the reason for the beginning is that yesterday or the day before or last Friday at midnight, there was a finishing. When I only begin a new story because writing the old one has defeated me, there is no magic in that, only desperation and more than a hint of self-pity.
          Maybe it is time to empty that drawer (except maybe for Molly Linden’s story—I so like her) and just start a new story when the last one is finished. When the time is right and the beginning really is magic.
          Thanks for having me here today. I wish you all magic beginnings and happy endings!


Retired from the post office, Liz Flaherty spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and Duane live in the old farmhouse in Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…30-some years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening!
She’d love to hear from you at lizkflaherty@gmail.com or please come and see her at:

 

22 comments:

Jan Scarbrough said...

Liz, When I started with a small press in 2007, I was given the chance to finish those first chapters that had never been finished and possibly rejected by traditional publishers. Today I count 20 books to my name. I think there's only one idea unfinished from back in the day. Sometime I'll get around to it too.

Pamela Tracy said...

I love the title. Hope you get to keep it. I read every word of McGruffey's.

Debra Druzy said...

Great post, Liz.
I love dusting off my old stuff just to see what was on my mind at the time and thinking if I can find the fix the story needed that I couldn't realize way back when I wrote it.
: )
Have a great day.
Happy writing,
Deb

Jannine Gallant said...

Congrats on the contract, Liz! I have a couple of unfinished books but only one that came to a grinding stop after a couple of chapters.Maybe one of these days... Except, there are too many new beginnings out there calling!

CottonSr said...

Writing may be the hardest form of art, but the most fulfilling. Guess I'm biased. Good luck with your story.

Kristina Knight said...

I think Molly may be trying to tell you something, Liz... :) Congrats on the new contract. I do love my beginnings and have my own folder/drawer full of 'em. Someday...

Jana Richards said...

I have a few manuscripts hidden away that consist of a Chapter 1 to 3. But there's a reason for that. Mostly that they had no place to go. They were a cute meet. The end. So I doubt I'll ever dust them off and try again. For me, it's better to start new.

Alison Henderson said...

Congratulations on your new contract, Liz! Now I'm no longer embarrassed to admit I have several "beginnings" tucked away. When I first started writing, I wrote one book then moved straight to the next. When I finished that one, I moved to the next one, etc. Then I had a crisis of confidence. I wanted to try a better-selling genre so I left one partial behind. (I still love that story and may finish and self-pub it one day just for fun.) After I published my first romantic suspense, I started a second in the series then a new contemporary series, just in case the RS didn't do well. You see where I'm going with this. I still intend to write all these books if I don't run out of steam. I just need a better plan and more FOCUS!

Robena Grant said...

Hi, Liz. Congrats! again on the new contract. I don't have any beginnings in the drawer, but I have some really awful manuscripts. Ha ha. I'm sure some of them started in the wrong place because back then I wasn't into slicing and dicing and every word seemed important. One day, if the new stories
ever dry up, I'll take a look and see if anything is salvageable.

Liz Flaherty said...

Jan, most of mine don't have that much merit (other than Molly and one other that I can think of). It's only ego that keeps me from permanently deleting them. :-) I'm so glad for you, though!

Liz Flaherty said...

Ah, Pam, thank you so much! The very sweetest words to a writer's ears.

Liz Flaherty said...

It is fun to do that, isn't it, Debra? I know that's why Molly Linden's calling to me!

Liz Flaherty said...

That's what I was discovering, Jannine, but I wasn't finishing. :-( It was definitely a wake-up call for me. Thanks for coming by!

Liz Flaherty said...

Thanks so much, Cotton. I love it a lot, too.

Liz Flaherty said...

Thanks, Kristi. I'm hoping for an opportunity to listen to Molly. :-)

Liz Flaherty said...

That's what mine end up being, Jana--cute meets. So cut it's hard not to use them, but if there's no story, there just isn't. Sigh.

Liz Flaherty said...

I still have trouble with that, Roben--starting in the right place, I mean. The few I had that never sold really were...awful. Then there was the one I kept thinking I'd remember to back up and 200 pages later, the computer crashed. I'm sure, of course, that one would have been a bestseller! :-)

Liz Flaherty said...

LOL, Alison--I have confidence in you!

Louise Lyndon said...

Congratulations on the contract! This is such a great topic!

I have one of those drawers too - well, more like a plastic bag shoved in the back of my darkened wardrobe. I'm never sure if I should resurrect them or not.

Liz Flaherty said...

Oh, you should, Louise--just in case you ever doubt your own growth!

Nan said...

I'm late to this conversation--work has returned and my Internet time is less frequent. Great post and yes, yes to having a drawer full of beginnings--or in my case, a box full of notes and beginnings. Sometimes an idea may have to stew for several years and pulling those out every so often can be surprising. One day, that beginning could go somewhere.

Liz Flaherty said...

Glad for the work coming back--I know you were worried. See you soon!