I’ve been thinking a lot lately about beginnings and endings. Sure, some of that is natural pondering we all are prone to do as an old year ends and a new one begins. A lot of it also must do with the deep sadness I experienced in saying goodbye to my beloved Siamese cat Lucy (yes we have the same name) after 15 years of pure joy and love. We had no choice but to send her over the Rainbow Bridge on my birthday, January third. Let me just say this: Worst. Birthday. Ever.
I don’t think it was an accident that Lucy left this world on the anniversary of the day I entered it. The older I get, the more I realize there are no accidents. Lucy always ran the show in our house. She was keenly aware of time and schedule and let everyone in the house know with her insistent meow if we were five minutes late for anything. In fact, my wife and I didn’t use an alarm clock for years. All we had to do was tell Lucy what time we had to be up and she would be right on the mark by a few minutes each time without fail. I have no doubt that her passing on my birthday was her special way of reminding me to be more attuned to the passage of time. She wanted me to truly begin again on a birthday the one day of the year that signals rebirth for each of us, in the one month of the year that always stands for new beginnings.
As a writer, I am obsessed with beginnings, and middles, and ends. After all, there can’t be one without the other. They are all inextricably connected in the triangle of life, and in the gossamer thin thread of a good, well-told story. Most of us are familiar with the quote from the film Hope Floats which says: “Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts.” As much as I loved that movie (I mean, who doesn’t love a sappy romance with Sandra Bullock?) I’m not sure I entirely agree. I think beginnings and endings count as much as the middle does. You can tell a lot about a person by paying attention to how he or she ends things; whether that thing be a relationship or a job, a friendship or assisting a pet in their final days. How we act matters no matter where we are in a story’s arc. Sometimes, the ending is scarier than the beginning or the middle. Humans are creatures of habit. Ending means a variation, a departure from the status quo. That can be as terrifying as the first day in a new school.
In my house, right now, we are all trying to adjust to a new normal without our Head of Household Kitty running the show. All of us are uncomfortable – even our two Labrador retrievers and our young Burmese cat. We are a battalion with no general, a pack with no pack leader, a tribe with no chief. We will all muddle through this new beginning and settle into a new middle but it won’t be pretty and it won’t be easy for any of us.
As we muddle though, I welcome another new beginning into the world. My second novel, a contemporary lesbian romance called In the Direction of the Sun, releases March 15, 2017 (Sapphire Books). Go ahead, you know you want to say it, since that phrase rests within the part of your brain where little used idioms rest: “Beware the Ides of March.” The date is also associated with both an ending and a beginning. March 15 is the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated certainly a violent ending for him as well as a marker of a new beginning for the Roman empire. I digress, but not really. You get it, I know you do.
In the Direction of the Sun also marks a new beginning for me as a writer because I had to expand my horizons to create. I’ve always been the type of writer whose best work comes from the kind of knowledge that resides in experience, but this book blasted me well outside my comfort zone. The story is centered on a woman who hikes the Appalachian Trail to heal a broken heart. Over the course of the past several years, I’ve hiked almost 900 miles of the Appalachian Trail myself. The other main character is an avid sailor. While I grew up near the beach on motorboats, sailing is a whole other world that I’ve enjoying residing in for a while. I hope that level of detail and authenticity comes across to readers.
Now I can’t wait to embark upon my next project because each project helps me grow as a human being and a writer. That means that each inkling of a story idea is a new beginning for me as a person, a new way for me to reinvent myself and my craft each time. Who knows where that will lead. My only hope is that Lucy is up there in the ethers making sure I stay on schedule and on task until the day that we meet again.
Now, since I’ve reached the end of this blog, I leave it to you to help it have a new beginning in each person who reads it. This is what makes writing so incredibly special: every time a writer finishes something, it becomes new over and over in the minds of a reader.
I wish you all nothing but happy beginnings, amazing middles, and special endings.
Lucy J. Madison is a novelist, poet, and screenwriter born and raised in Connecticut. She received a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with honors from Wesleyan University, receiving the University’s Rulewater Prize for her thesis project on women’s basketball. Her work has appeared in many magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. She is a member of the Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, Rainbow Romance Writers, Golden Crown Literary Society, and the Lesbian Authors Guild. Lucy is currently working on several feature film scripts and two new novels. She resides with her wife of 17 years in shoreline CT and in Provincetown, MA along with their beloved pets.
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- Amazon Profile: www.amazon.com/author/lucymadison