Today I start work on a nonfiction story I’ve had in mind for a while. There’s a feeling I get when I’m about to begin something new. I’m excited, sure, but that’s only part of it. Worried? Maybe a little — that I’ll eventually fail — but I’ve failed before and it didn’t hurt me.
Starting a new story feels more like when I walk through the house to the kitchen for coffee on dark winter mornings without turning on a light. I can’t tell doorways from walls or be sure where the chairs and tables are, but I refuse to put my hands out to guard me from bumping or tripping. I risk a bruise just to see if I can make it. In the kitchen I turn on the light long enough to fill my cup then flip the switch and make my way in the dark to my office.
That’s how it feels when I begin something new. In my mind I know three things: the opening scene, the final scene, and how I want my reader to feel when the story is finished. Now all I have to do is grope my way in the dark toward a goal I sense more than I can see. Off I go.