I get to this point every time I start working on a new project. It’s the time during the early stages, after the planning is done and the characters have been fleshed out and it’s time to start the actual story. That exact moment and all the moments right before is the point of fear for me. It’s the time right before my fingers hit the keys and the story begins. Some people get excited at the prospect of something new and choose to dive (dangerously head first) right into the work. I’m different. I get nervous.
When an idea first comes into my head, I feel the excitement. I feel the joy that comes with asking myself what if? And the joy that comes with letting new characters exist in my imagination for a little while, willing them to interact and come to the surface, thinking about them before I fall asleep and hoping that while I dream they will do something amazing. All of that is exciting. I even find the planning phase exciting. Writing down ideas, creating an outline that I will without fail abandon halfway through the project, researching how the characters will live. Imagining a fictional town and designing the downtown area with sticky note shops is one of my favorite parts in the beginning.
But right before I start to write the story, all I can feel is the weight of the story untold on my heart and mind. I feel this insane pressure because I realize that once I start, I can’t not finish. Even when the words are painful and I can tell that the story is going nowhere, I still plod on, trying to make it work. I feel this responsibility to tell those characters’ stories, because if I don’t, who will?
I know that once I start, once the first scene is written, no matter how crappy it may be, the pressure will lift and I’ll be able to enjoy the process again. Once I start, the pressure fades, and I can’t help but wonder if the building pressure for me is kind of like the carbonized water in sodas preparing to make the delicious fizz. Flat Dr. Pepper just isn’t tasty, so maybe without the pressure my story would just be blah.
I find it interesting that I’m preparing to start a new story so close to the beginning of a new year. After so much time off from writing, especially from writing fiction, I worried that there would be no more stories for me, that all my creativity had eked out and there was no more inside of me. I don’t know if it is good yet, but I sure am excited to start fresh with Evie and Norma.