First line… let’s go.



I sit now surrounded by my manuscripts, references, inspiration and pressing fingertips to keys and (re)typing.  (Re)COMMITMENT!  This version will be from the pelvis.  First chakra shit.

Yesterday, I posted:

Start again. Put China markers and socks and threaded needles down. Write, bitch, write.


There is no beginning.  I’ve tried to invent one but it was a lie and I don’t want to be a liar.  This story will end where it began, in the middle.  A triangle or a circle.  A closed loop with three points. – Janna Levin, The Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

My dear friend, Matthew Roy, who is on the third edit (mind-blowing, beautiful edits) of his EXTRAORDINARY novel (a work of speculative fiction)- sent me a tip:

Set a timer for one hour. Start writing. When you get stuck look at timer. Sit with it. Then write some more. Repeat until timer rings.

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. – Terry Pratchett

My brother, Fredrik Thorsen, writer/filmmaker, uses the following rule: AATC. Apply ass to chair.  Here I am, at the kitchen table, in my bathrobe, in need of a shower, bottomless coffee, Sunday early aft, ready to (re)start.

And to start, my mind goes to the first line.  I wonder what the final-first will be in the end.  I.e. In the end, how will my book have started?

Edna Buchanan covered the murder for the Herald– there are policeman in Miami who say it wouldn’t be a murder without her- and her story began with what [is still regarded] as the classic Edna lead: “Gary Robinson died hungry.”  – Calvin Trillin Covering the Cops- the world of Miami’s top crime reporter, The New Yorker, February 17, 1986

A SAMPLING OF FIRST LINES: pulled randomly from my personal library


The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.” – Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

Here is the house. – Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

I, TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS DRUSUS NERO GERMANICUS This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot”, or “That Claudius”, of “Claudius the Stammerer”, or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or best as “Poor Uncle Claudius”, [A.D. 41] am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled. – Robert Graves, I, Claudius

Some kids found her. James Ellroy, My Dark Places– an L.A. crime memoir

June 17, 1972. – Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men

Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food. – Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation

“Home again!” Nancy Drew spoke as she stopped her sport maroon roadster before the walk of her own house. – Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew Mystery Stories- Nancy’s Mysterious Letter

How do people get to this Clandestine Archipelago? – Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

The teens are the most colorful years of life. – Harold Shyrock, M.A., M.D., On Becoming a Woman

My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born. – Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes

The first thing I remember is being under something. – Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

It must have been a Thursday night when I met her for the first time- at the dance hall. – Henry Miller, Sexus- the Rosy Crucifixion I

Fat Curt is on the corner. – David Simon, The Corner- a year in the life of an inner-city neighborhood

In early times, say the Icelandic chronicles, men from the Western Islands came to live in this country, and when they departed, left behind them crosses, bells, and other objects used in the practice of sorcery. – Haldor Laxness, Independent People

Not very far from Upton-on-Severn- between it, in fact, and the Malvern Hills- stands the country seat of the Gordons of Bramley; well-timbered, well-cottaged, well-fenced and well-watered, having, in the latter respect, a stream that forks in exactly the right position to feed two large lakes in the grounds. – Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness

When my mother was angry with me, which was often, she said, ‘The Devil led us to the wrong crib.’ – Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. – Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

Dear Anyone Who Find This, Do not blame the drugs. – Lynda Barry, Cruddy

Ah, inspired by authors I am happy to write that I am (re)writing and transcribing- in a new more personal approach to the project.

After much discussion and feedback, the more personal is key.

E.g. A review of Deborah Baker’s The ConvertThe story is so engrossing it’s too bad the writing has a disorienting quality. There’s a stiffness, an academic detachment, about the history and cultural criticism authored by Baker. On the flip side, Jameelah’s letters are swift, gossipy, confessional. If only the book contained more of those.  SOURCE


This post is dedicated to my writing companion Patti Henderson.  We have committed to meeting regularly for check ins, encouragement, inspiration, brainstorming, writing.  Our latest meet up was a delicious afternoon at Finch’s in Strathcona.

Finch’s a 501 East Georgia

The meetups, even though sometimes we don’t actually write and type, are essential- for we bring our work is with us, we physically hold it, stroke it, organize it, share it, TALK ABOUT IT!  And move forward.


Happiest of birthdays to my sweet soul sister who has seen me through some of my darkest times, who lifts me beyond measure, who fiercely demands to live life to its fullest, who embodies the creative spirit, who laughs loudly, speaks her mind, the ultimate aunt to my children, my Dad’s walking companion, an archetypal storyteller, a heron, my dear comrade. Love you, Patti

We write every day, we fight every day, we think and scheme and dream a little dream every day. Manuscripts pile up in the kitchen sink, run-on sentences dangle around our necks. We plant purple prose in our gardens and snip the adverbs only to thread them in our hair. We write with no guarantees, no certainties, no promises of what might come and we do it anyway. This is who we are. ― Tahereh Mafi



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