Bashful Beginnings

I still feel shy talking about my book. It’s almost like I’m ashamed, and I’m only recently admitting that I’m even writing one. For the longest time, I have hidden it, pushing it deep into the recesses of my mind to be dredged up on long car rides where all there is to do is think. I told myself that it was because I didn’t want people badgering me about how far I’ve gotten or to explain the plot, but I now see that it was more than that.

When people who are younger say that they are writing a book, they get indulgent smiles. It’s like people are judging them. There are a lot of teenagers who say that they are going to write a book and very few actually carry through. Or, and this seems to happen more often, what they have written is sloppy and does a lot of jumping around. As a result, untried writers are often indulged rather than encouraged and most people seem to expect failure.

I couldn’t help it; I didn’t want to be grouped with teenagers who took a half formed idea and haphazardly bunched it into an amateur story. I still don’t. So when I talk about my book, I’m deliberately vague and I make it sound like something I’m going to do in the future, not something I’m working on now. I hint at character ideas, plot twists, or different races of people. I get feedback from my friends and don’t let them know that I am actually writing about this and that their ideas are helping to sculpt my book.

Now that I’m in college, my perspective on my book has changed. Conviction has settled itself upon my shoulders and under its guidance I am finally taking this task seriously. It is no longer a vague idea that I dreamed up and wrote a couple pages for. I have now created a unique world, with a wide variety of characters. My plot is solidifying so that I think I can finally explain my book clearly, not just as a selection of half formed notions. I have nuances in cultures and characters and silly superstitions, something that before never even occurred to me. What was once a half remembered dream that I decided to write down one morning has now evolved into something new with possibility beyond my original expectations.

It’s been hard to reach this point, I won’t lie about that. I don’t have a book published to help me prove to people that I can not only write, but I can write well enough to make people want to buy my story. Instead, the only way I can convince people is through my words and I find the task increasingly daunting. My first book, my first story, my first chapter, my first page, my first paragraph, my first sentence, all of it needs to draw in a reader who doesn’t know me and then make them crave more. They need to rave and rant to their friends about how wonderful this book is. How there’s this really cool thief at one part who like to talk in accents and a drunken king who walks around everywhere with a glass of wine. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

As a result of all this pressure, I find myself rereading what I have written and thinking: Am I being to vague? Does that dialogue have a purpose or am I just filling space? More importantly, is the dialogue a believable conversation between two people? Have I described my characters well enough to bring forth their essence in a readers mind? I know I’m overanalyzing everything and more often than not I have to set my book aside and come back another day, when I can just relax in the joy of writing and not stress about the future of it.

The only comfort I can find is that every writer starts where I am now. Every single one, whether it was Shakespeare or the writer of a dime novel. I am walking in the footsteps that countless writers before me have taken and I just have to remember that, just as their conviction and stubbornness helped them to achieve their goals, so will mine. I just have to believe in what I write and the rest will come with time.

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2 thoughts on “Bashful Beginnings

  1. It took me a really long time to actually say the words, “I am writing a book.” I would call it all sorts of things to get around from uttering those words. It’s good that you are focused on this project. I remember hearing a published author say that you will work on your first 50 pages for 5 years. I was mortified! But as I keep going, I see how one becomes obsessed with how the beginning is–is it too vague? how’s the dialogue? My little bit of advice is to get it all down on paper (or word processor) and then worry about re-drafting and fine tuning once you’ve got your sloppy first draft of the manuscript. Cheers!

  2. I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a book for years, and your post is full of motivation. Nothing beats seeing someone chase a dream. I, for one, am willing to read your work upon completion. Best of luck to you.

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