And in the beginning . . . A very famous book started off that way. Maybe it was because the author didn’t know how to get going. That’s where I’m finding myself right now. It always happens after I finish one novel and embark on another. I don’t know how to begin.
Yesterday, I spend the good share of the day trying to put down the first six chapters of the next novel I have in mind. This book is about Italians coming to America. Did you know that the Italians were the biggest group to immigrate over a 50 year time span? Yup, it’s true. I learned that in college when I was researching my own Grandfather Ballasario’s immigrant story.
Unlike my grandfather who came to the Midwest, the characters in the new novel come from Sicily and will settle in the New York tenements. I’m having trouble getting to know these characters because I’ve never been THAT poor. I’ve never had a great deal of money either, but for some reason, I can imagine being at the rich end of the spectrum instead of the poor. I wonder why that is, but I can’t dwell on it. I have to research, right?
I’ve read books like, “Angela’s Ashes,” which was a story about growing up in dire poverty in Ireland. I’ve heard stories from poor people from third world countries having to use old tires to re-sole their shoes. But for some reason, these accounts don’t tell me how the people feel. That’s the dilemma. So, I guess the answer is, I must keep persevering until my characters talk to me.
I think “The Beginning” is the hardest part of any writing because it sets the tone for what will come after. Maybe these characters accept their fate or maybe they will rebel against the people who look down upon their station in life. Maybe one character will accept his/her status and remain positive that they will someday live somewhere else. Or, this character will join a gang and fight their way out. I don’t know right now, and it’s driving me crazy!
The answer might be to try writing the middle chapters or even the end. It’ll be revised a dozen times anyway, right? I just have to force myself to WRITE. Hey, anything’s better than succumbing to writer’s block!
So, wish me luck as I face my task. I hope to be able to tell you all in a few weeks, that I’ve overcome the problems and my characters are keeping me up at night. If not, I’ll probably whine to you a little more.