The most difficult chapter to write is the first one.You need to grab the reader, introduce characters and setting as well as set up the story. There is a lot of pressure to make it good. When I wrote “Lessons from the Depression”, the opening scene came to me immediately. I knew exactly where I wanted to start the story and I knew it needed to be a moment of crisis. Ironically, the same is true for “The Promise.”
I felt that the beginning of the short story version didn’t give enough information about the crisis. I knew I was going to expand it as soon as the decision was made to make it into a novel. I just wasn’t sure how. I wrote four different versions before I came up with a scenario I felt was right.
I wrote the scene as I saw it in my head. When I read my work, it was weak. It didn’t have the intensity and depth that my vision had. I struggled through a couple of re-writes and was ready to give up. Instead, I sent it to two friends who are writers. HELP was the subject line. Boy, did they help.
Each one took time out of their busy schedules and went through the chapter, highlighting what they liked and what didn’t work for them. Both were worried I might take offense. I didn’t. I felt so blessed that these talented individuals would share their insights with me and give me a shot of making this chapter good.
By following their advice, I rewrote the chapter into a scene that fit with my vision. It wasn’t perfect but it had come a long way. There are more re-writes in the future but it is more polish than substance.
Vesna and Margaret have inspired me to write on a higher level than I ever have before. They have pushed me beyond my own limitations. This book is already better because of them.
My experience of writing “Lessons from the Depression” was a lonely one. I wrote and rewrote with no feedback. When I struggled, I struggled alone. I didn’t know how to reach out or who to reach out to. Having Vesna and Margaret as well as the e-mail group following my journey, has been a Godsend. I feel loved, supported, encouraged and accompanied.
You can do the same for one of your friends, family members or co-workers. Be someone’s groupie today. Support them and encourage them in whatever they are doing. It is such a gift.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 New King James Version:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
I wish for you a friend-filled week!