Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First chapters and cheesecake

I have a twin sister, Bee. I have mentioned this before, but for those of you who are just tuning in, I felt the need to say this again, just so there isn't any confusion. She's not just my sister, she's my twin sister. But that's not the point.

The point is that she is amazing!! I do not tell her this enough because half of the time I just want to wrap my fingers around her neck and...well, you know. But something happened yesterday.

She made pumpkin cheesecake!


She gave me my first chapter!

I would have been happy with the cheesecake, but in typical Bee fashion, Bee knows what I'm thinking before I do. So, two cups of coffee, two slices of cheesecake, two cups of tea, and a melodramatic speech about how I don't know why I bother, she finally says "Tell me where you left off, I'll write it for you."

I know what you're thinking, you think she actually wrote my first chapter and handed it to me polished and shiny. She didn't. But she may as well have. She stretched her fingers, rolled her shoulders, did a few more stretches, and started typing with this determined expression on her face. Bee isn't a writer, she isn't a reader, she doesn't even like libraries. But she is amazing. Did I mention that? I think I did. Anyway, by the time she was done and I read what she wrote, I was smiling. No, I was laughing. I realize now that this is probably the reaction she was aiming for. But at the time, I was just so amused and slightly astonished at how she somehow managed to tell me without saying it out loud that I was overthinking everything.

And I was.

I think that is why I've always had trouble with my first chapters. I told Bee yesterday that I don't want my first chapter to be "good" or "great!" I want it to be "Excellent!!!!" So this is where I set the bar for myself and aim to touch every single time I sit down to write. Having this standard in mind, I write a sentence and dissect it. I write another and dissect it. The process repeats itself until I really just want to delete everything I've ever written and start chasing Life Long Dream #2 : become a ballerina. Then I realize it's too late for that and my knees crack when I stand and that, too, goes out the window. And it's back to Life Long Dream #1.

I'm starting to realize that I might just set the bar for myself a little too high. I mean, it's one thing to strive to do the best you can, but it's something else entirely to strive for perfection. If I'm being honest with myself I can admit that I have perfectionist tendencies. In my defense, though, I'm not always aware of them. That's what Bee did for me yesterday. She made me aware that I was so hooked on getting it perfect, that I was questioning everything I wrote, and by questioning everything I wrote, I was building up problems within my story that didn't exist.

So, I know better now. And hopefully this short little tale can be a precaution for some other writer sitting in a dark room, struggling with their first chapter...and eating cheesecake.

I will eventually share with you guys what she wrote and what I wrote. But we'll save that for later.


  1. Nice to "meet" you! Saw you on miss snarks SA contest...just wanna say I appreciate your constructive feedback! New follower :)

  2. Hi Barbara! I didn't know where to leave this comment, so I'm just going to do it here: I LOVE YOUR STORY! The one you posted on miss snark. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I've only gotten through half of the SA posts, but yours was by far my favorite.

  3. Hi! I also found you on MSFV SA contest. Not many people of color, who also happen to be young, blog, so I'm very, very pleased to meet you.

    I'll be checking you out on a regular, so save a cup of coffee for me.


  4. Hi, Tyson! Yes, I've noticed the scarcity in that area and I'm making to fix it. Thank you for stopping by! You've got a cup with your name on it.