We are gathered here today, dearly beloved, to talk about beginnings. Why they sometimes suck. Well, for me.

Beginnings are introductions. And I’m an ambivert, bad at introductions, good when things get going, great when there’s action, awesome when it’s time to say good-bye and the exchanging of numbers, information and business cards are happening.

I’m shy and hesitant initially – because I don’t know if you’ll like who I am and what I offer. When there’s warmth and things are safe, I let myself be and then hopefully, you’ll like what you see.

My first meet with my husband was like that. I was quiet for the most part but then our second meet was in a bookstore and that’s safety-city for moi, so I was me. And we got married seven months later.

This pattern unfortunately presents itself in my writing. I’ve worked on this but it reasserts itself in every new project.

New writers need a leg in the door and that leg starts with a foot called the first five to ten pages. And this foot’s supposed to be your best foot.

Alas, my foot is not the prettiest.

I’ve read most of the recommended books on the importance of your manuscript’s opening and I’ve done the work (start later, ditch the backstory or weave it seamlessly, start with inciting incident, NO prologue etc) but beginning the beginning right is not my forte.

I know this because I’ve had the awful but lovely experience where a new writing teacher/professor/mentor reads my work with pen striking often in the initial pages, admonishing inks becoming sparse on the next few pages and then disappearing in the middle only to reappear at the end with a Bravo! or an A+ or an I can’t wait to read more of your work.

They don’t go on being so critical on the openings of my subsequent pieces, but the uniformity of responses to my introductory set-ups have made a deep impression on me.

So I kind of play around with my beginnings a lot.

Is it a form of procrastination? I don’t think so – because I do send work out. Is it a form of perfectionism? Yes, that it is.

I try to console myself that other notable books have less than stellar beginnings. But they all made it in the door somehow. Their feet squeezed through.

Okay, back to pedicuring my MSs.

My manuscripts, all lined up. Ugh. Photo by Vern Hart