Friday, August 8, 2014

Beginnings Are Like Shark Teeth--By Kimberly Sabatini

The beginnings of my stories are like shark teeth.

One comes up right behind the other. In fact I usually only write one story at a time, unless I'm working on a very different type of project--something for another age group. The key--my manuscripts can't compete with each other. I can't split my focus when I'm immersed in a world. I can't do two YA books at the same time, but I can putter with a picture book or a poem etc... And I am very grateful to this skill--compartmentalizing. It's good because I've always said, when it comes to my YA's, I can't write any faster than I can grow. Emotional growth in a book and in my own life is a challenge. It's exhausting to wear your heart on the outside of your body for hour after hour. Sometimes I stop and curl up in the fetal position. And this can make me feel bad. It can make me feel like a crappy writer (even though in my heart I know it isn't true.) But having another, very different project to work on when I get stuck goes a very long way to helping me avoid writers block. It holds the negative voices at bay. It stimulates my creativity and keeps me writing, which is a very good thing. It keeps me being a writer when I'm stuck.

But back to shark teeth. That's how I normally work when I'm writing a YA, I am obsessively focused on the one piece that is in the forefront. But, very slowly the next and next idea rolls into view, ready to take it's place when the time is right. I'm not writing drafts of the ideas coming up from the rear--I'm mulling them over. Trying to decide what is rising to the surface and what does it mean. What is this story about? As you might expect, the next idea behind my current MS gets most of my mental brainstorming attention, but I've always got my eyes covering teeth at least 3-4 rows back. Doing this takes a big bite out of my fear that I will NEVER HAVE ANOTHER GOOD IDEA AGAIN!!!! Of course, it isn't always as easy to see what those new teeth are all about, but like a shark knows another tooth is coming, I know another story will be here when I need it to be.


  1. I was just writing about this in a comment on another blog. If I get a great idea and abandon my current WIP in pursuit of that, I end up never going back to the other book. It just remains an unfinished manuscript forever. I can't seem to get back into a book once I've put it aside for a while.

    1. It works for me...I think of it as logical development. No abandoning but still nurturing the next idea. :o)