I started a new book last week. I mean, technically, I “started” a “book,” but all that means is I have a few scenes from a hypothetical story outlined in a notepad and sketched out on my computer. That’s not a book. That’s not really anything. In fact, I stumbled over the first line of this blog for some time, because even saying, “I started a new book” sounds like a fraudulent statement.
It’s funny how the tiny beginnings of major happenings can make you feel exactly like that, like a fraud, just pretending to be something you have far more fantasies about than experience. It’s like referring to yourself by a fancy new title on your first day of work, or commenting on your marriage the day after your wedding. The claims feel sort of contrived and uncomfortable. Technically, you are those things, but it still feels like you’re faking it.
So while it seems like it should be some sort of grand announcement, that I’ve “started a new book,” every time I’ve casually mentioned it to anyone, I end up regretting it. I don’t know the answer to any of the questions. I’ve just plopped a few characters on a page; I don’t know anything about who they will become. Some general plot lines have been set, but I don’t know where all of them are going. I’ve never written fiction before. I have no idea if I’m capable of it. I might not be. It could all be over before it’s even “book” enough to earn such a title.
I guess that is the beauty in beginning something brand new. If it wasn’t sort of terrifying, if it wasn’t such a stretch to your very identity that if feels fraudulent to say it aloud, it wouldn’t be a true adventure. It would just be another thing. So many of the best parts of life start quietly and small, with the answer to a question, an unexpected email or a short jumble of words typed on a page. If they didn’t start so small, so seemingly insignificant, there would be no joy in watching them grow, change, and eventually change you, as they turn into something real.