I view my life in chapters.
When I was 11, I wrote a song called “The New Chapter”, signifying a time for me when I had to start anew. Last year, I wrote “The New Chapter 2”, also representing a time when I started again.
Each time something big happens – starting school, discovering a talent, starting a new activity, solving problems, facing new, more challenging trials – I start a new chapter. Like all writers, I try to start a new chapter only when everything’s perfect in the previous one, or when I’m ready to go on. I’ve got my storyline planned out most of the time… I want it to be perfect. For example, starting high school at 13 years old and staying in the school till I’m 17.
But sometimes it can’t be helped – for example, if there is a flaw in the storyline, and all writers hate that, but it happens, and one must give up plans and begin a new phase. You could have planned your character to fall for this person in the end, but you have chapters and chapters more to go. Maybe by then your story would have plunged off its line and into some river somewhere and those two characters don’t work anymore. Maybe you wanted to end this chapter after the guy gets shot but you find it sounds better if you end it here rather than there. And so you finalize your chapter.
When I’m not ready to do something (in other words, to end a chapter), I feel as though I have paragraphs and paragraphs to finish before the chapter ends. I would think to myself, “There’s so much more I want to do before beginning this!” And when one feels that way, it isn’t time yet.
But you don’t always have a choice in where your chapters end, and in that way, life is unlike writing a book. Sometimes something happens – the death of a loved one, a natural disaster. Something that us mortal beings have no control over. And when that happens, there is nothing one can do about it. One has to take it as a tiny little flaw in the tale and decide to drop plans of pages, to start over anew.
New chapters don’t always start easily. They don’t always begin because it’s expected (like starting school). Most of the time, they don’t happen because we want them to. There will be those dramatic chapters, the ones where the main character is in a dark place and can’t get out. But that chapter will end when the character has healed. And a character doesn’t just heal. They have to decide to heal. They have to want to heal. Sometimes, it isn’t about healing, it’s about believing and trying something new and frightening. Something they’ve never done before.
And that’s the beauty of it all.
Time to start a new chapter.