The Long Path to the Beginning

Matilda Butler – Opening Salvos #3
Opening Salvo 3 A new year holds the promise of new beginnings, a topic that I think about frequently, especially in relation to writing. I like to plan my year, complete with goals and schedules. Each new year's eve, while others party, I have an odd version of fun. I layout the year and try to be creative about new projects. I'm always surprised and delighted when one of these new ideas takes shape during the year. 

This photo of a walled path reflects my thinking about the beginning of a year and the beginning of a memoir. I like to know where I'm going, but at the same time, I know there are twists and turns that I can't anticipate. The interview with this month's author made me even more aware of the need to be open, open to life and open to our writing.

I want to share with you Betty Auchard's thoughts about beginnings. Betty's memoir, Dancing in my Nightgown: Rhythms of Widowhood, is an award-winning book that is sweet, funny, touching, and poignant. 

Betty begins the interview by saying "I've only been writing for ten years." She wants us to know that she considers herself a newbie who is still stretching herself to learn her craft. It's that attitude of openness that makes Betty both fun to be around and to interview. Perhaps one of the best lessons to learn from Betty is that there are no fixed right and wrong ways to create the beginning of your memoir. If you are tuned in to your writing, you will know what is most effective.

During the interview, Betty shared two thoughts that may be helpful. First, she tells us that you may have already written a really effective opening to a memoir or a vignette. You just don't know it yet. She says that she often finds the perfect opening buried in the middle of a paragraph. You need to be open to examining what you have written. Second, she says that sometimes openings can't be written until our thoughts are in their wrapping up mode. Only at that time, after we have worked through the memories, can we know where the story really begins.

If you'd like to listen to Betty's interview, click here.

One response to “The Long Path to the Beginning

  1. Matilda
    Thanks for this post – and the intriguing photo.
    I am especially inspired by the premise of looking at what I’ve already written to see if perhaps the perfect opening is buried in those words. What saged advice from someone who by her own definition is a newbie. Thanks also for the hint about another good book! I’m always on the lookout for those!

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