In the writing day today, I was editing and revising and realized that I don't like the beginning of "Many and Varied Potato Recipes". It's not surprising. I often dislike my beginnings. It takes me a while to unravel all the threads and separate them enough to see what's going on so I can put them together and create a short story. Sometimes - many times - I begin in a story's middle and then, realizing that, begin to wonder, why, why, why, backing up to the beginning.
With this story, I think I've arrived at the beginning. But I realized, the beginning's energy was lacking. The right elements were present but they weren't arranged in the best manner, which made me think of feng shui.
I don't understand a great deal about feng shui. I've read about it and agree - I think, as far as I understand it - with the underlying ideas about the positive and negative energy and the ability to create structures that encourage and embrace positive energy while deflecting and releasing negative energy.
So I stroked my keyboard, read what I had written, then sat back and closed my eyes, letting the energy seep through me.
It became more like re-arranging a room. Let's try this sentence over here. Put that sentence there. Do we have another verb available? Is that conjunction necessary? Let's get rid of it. No, no, that doesn't work, put it back.
None of that helped. Something was missing. I turned to the Google and conducted a search for great opening lines. About 239,000,000 results came back in .21 seconds. I was surprised it had taken so long. It didn't seem like that to me. I was amazed at the number, too - 239,000,000 results. Wow! Four entries captured my attention, for they claimed to have the top 15, 25, 10 and 20 greatest opening lines. What would be number one? Well, here are the number ones:
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” — Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy - http://listverse.com/2011/11/23/top-15-opening-lines-of-books/
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez - http://www.shmoop.com/news/2010/07/13/best-opening-lines-literature/
“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” Ulysses - James Joyce - http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2012/apr/29/ten-best-first-lines-fiction#/?picture=389274023&index=0
“‘Take my camel, dear,’ said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.” — Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond - http://www.dailywritingtips.com/20-great-opening-lines-to-inspire-the-start-of-your-story/
So they weren't the same. Reading those and all the other great opening lines, sometimes with explanations, ignited ideas. I was on my way again in a short time, realizing, I'd needed a little distance from the story to understand what I was seeing and trying to convey.
After another forty-five minutes of typing and revising, the feng shui seemed right, but we'll see tomorrow. Energy can be so difficult to capture, especially when it's the wind-water of words.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com