I’m sitting at the coffeehouse, having just dropped my son off to do volunteer work (his first day) at the little science center in town where he, many years ago, took after-school classes. I’m having semi-mushy thoughts about how far he’s come, thinking about the two friends he still has, with whom he took those classes, and thinking about how far they’ve come, too. (Their mothers and I, of course, have not aged a day.)

So here I am, thinking about paths and milestones and the beginnings of all those, when I bump into two blog posts in my Google reader, and I realize there must be something in the air.

Kelly Fineman is posting about the fallow periods in her writing, but she warms us up with some thoughts about how she got started on her writing path. I love that Kelly makes a distinction between when she started and when she committed.

And Robin LaFevers is at the start of a new novel and is letting us into her world with a post about how she begins a project. If you haven’t read any of Robin’s process posts, now would be a great time to tune in. And, tell her, yes, we want more of these!

I began writing so long ago I can’t remember; I thought I had committed fifteen years ago, but no that it really didn’t happen until about three years ago when I was hit with the idea for my MG mystery and got serious, in terms of both hours and revision; I started this WIP about a year ago.

Really, you know, it all blurs together, except for moments like today, when I looked at the bike rack by the science center. It’s one of those racks that’s a single tube of metal curving up and down and up and down–one of those that’s perfect for little kids to climb all over, to swing on and between. And I realized that not my son, not one of his friends, would fit on or in it anymore. I’m not sure it would reach up to their knees.

On the writing path, too, there are moments. Kelley’s talked about hers. Mine are the memories of laying on my bed as a young girl, writing a story into my notebook in that curly, loopy cursive we all experimented with at some time or another. Coming to the early meetings of my first real critique group, drinking tea and sharing words. Sitting in the workshop, half-listening to the teacher and half-scribbling notes about Joel & Victoria, the two cousins in my mystery. Reading the passage about the suffrage march in Washington, D.C., when the white suffragists asked Ida B. Wells to walk at the back of the parade and knowing that I had the next story I had to work on. Realizing, as I finished the first draft, that I still wanted to tell that story, but that it was not the one I was working on at the moment. Having instances of revelation and astonishment about story, when I wanted to dance around the room and/or type words into my computer so fast that the CPU would start smoking. More instances of revelation and astonishment, this time about the writing craft–a way to sharpen a character or heighten plot tension–and finding a way to weave all that into whatever book I was working on.

Where am I today? In the middle of all that, still, and knowing there’ll be more to come. We hear it a lot today, and probably enough that it loses some meaning, but there’s a truth in this statement: It’s all good.

What are your beginnings? Your moments?


  1. Lois Hoffman says:

    Thanks for the post. I thought about writing for a long time, but it wasn’t until I sat gazing at the gorgeous mountains in Colorado did I start to write (I live in Delaware). It took another year to get serious and another year to get really serious. I finally submitted that first poem I wrote about the mountains and it was recently accepted. Maybe someday, I’ll get really, really serious.


  2. I loved reading about your journey, maybe especially the moment that led into your historical. Hoping for more mountains than valleys this year for you — and, well, all of us!


  3. Kelly Fineman says:

    I love reading process posts and about how people’s journeys have progressed. Thanks for this one!


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