“Beginnings are the hardest part”, my mother wrote on the flyleaf of a birthday gift book at some point in my late youth. I think that by then I’d begun to show a moderately serious interest in writing, but I was still in the phase where I sat around waiting for inspiration to strike. I did a lot of musing and blank page staring before I finally realized that that’s not how writing works. Now, I know it’s dedication and work that get things moving. I don’t know that my opening lines are that much better on average, but I get a lot more of them out.
I was thinking the other day, while editing Metaphorosis, about the mythology of opening lines – this idea that they must be striking and magical. (Spoiler – they need not be.) It came to me that it might be fun to assemble all of my own first lines and take a look at them. Plus, it would – in the course of a fun project finally get me to organize all my stories and try to clarify their writing order. I did some of this to put together Allenthology, but the sequence wasn’t quite complete. Thus the beginnings project was born.
It grew, of course, from opening lines to opening paragraphs, and it wasn’t as simple as I’d hoped. But it was fun.
In any case, starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting a new first line every day – eventually covering the 108 stories I’ve completed to date. They’re not all published, or sold, or even worthy of being published – some of the early ones will likely never see the light of day. Most important, though all these stories are finished, and that’s the hardest thing about writing – regardless of what anyone tells you about beginnings.