Ah, January. Depending on where you are, it might be snowy and clear, it might be rainy and gray, it might be warm and sunny. (It’s rainy and gray in Pittsburgh and I wish it would be snowy and clear – and I can’t believe I’m saying that). In Western culture, it’s the beginning of a new year – with all the resulting angst, promise, excitement, and dread. Aside from September (the start of the school year), there is no other time to rival it for resolutions, goals, and general “need to change and do better” thoughts.
We often talk about “the” beginning. As if there is only one. Except…there’s more than one, right? Think about it. You have:
- the beginning of a new year
- the beginning of a new month
- the beginning of a new week
- the beginning of a new day
- the beginning of a new writing project
- the beginning of a new work session
- the beginning of a new scene
- the beginning of a new chapter
- the beginning of a new reading project (aka, a new book)
That, my friend, is a LOT of beginnings.
All of them have a few things in common.
An ounce of trepidation. Will this book in the series be as good as the last? This one applies to readers and writers. Writers worry that the characters may become stale and boring. Readers wonder if the author can top the last book. (This is especially true if the “last” book received an award nomination or stellar review.) Maybe the magic is gone. Maybe during your last writing session, you killed it on the word count or things were really rocking. Will it happen again? If you had a particularly good/bad day/week/month/year (hello, 2016 for celeb deaths anyone?), will the new one be better or worse — or the same?
A half-pound of anticipation. What’s coming next? What’s around the corner? The story always has the possibility of surprise. That’s what brings the butterflies in your stomach and the tingle in your nerves. Of course, depending on how you feel about surprise, this may increase the amount of trepidation.
A handful of possibility. There’s a meme that has made the rounds of the internet for the last couple of years right around January 1: Today is the first page of a new 365-page book. Make it a good one. But that’s not just true of the first day of the year. That’s true of every day. Every project. Every book. Before you begin, the possibility is shiny and tempting. Because this just might be the best <fill in the blank> ever.
A teaspoon of hope. I really do believe we all WANT better. Better writing, better books, better society, better attitudes – to be better people. And (most of us) start every beginning believing that this time is going to be better – we’ll do better, be better, act better.
With all of that in mind, here’s my wish for the Mysteristas community: That we go forth and enjoy all the beginnings – and make everything we begin the best <fill in the blank> yet.