Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Second Time Around . . .

by Judy Merrill Larsen

Frank Sinatra sang, "Love is lovelier, the second time around" and I gotta say, the guy is dead on. And not just because he's totally cool.

While I'm rarely afraid of new things, of beginnings, of fresh starts, I'm most comfortable with the second time around. First dates invariably had me running to the bathroom minutes before the doorbell rang, sure I was going to be sick. Ah, but the second date? Much calmer. I could look forward to it. First day on a new job? Terrified. First year teaching? Felt like I was always making a mistake and constantly behind. The second year, I'd found my rhythm and confidence.

I'm now beginning another book while I wait to hear news from my agent about the one on submission. And I find beginnings very hard. Do I go this direction? Or that one? How much is too much at the start? I second guess everything. The first sentence/page/chapter has to be perfect, dammit. Has to pull the reader in and not let go for 80,000 words. I'm not yet at the stage I love which is where the characters are with me all the time and the writing is pure pleasure (well, until it's not, but that's a post for another time). So, I'm dragging my feet. Plus, I'm wrestling with choosing between beginning three completely different stories.

It really is like dating . . . which one do I want to go out with? Who will work for the long haul? I'm not looking for a fun fling that will grow tiresome after a couple nights out . . . or worse, not call back. Heck no, I don't need that at this stage in my life. I need to know where it's going. And you can't ask that right away or you'll scare the story off.

So, I'm avoiding it all together, which I know is not a good strategy. I toss around the three possibilities while I go about my day, trying to look at them from all angles, examining where I can go with each one, and I think, I really do, that one is starting to pull ahead, but then the other two wink at me and I wonder where they could take me. And I use excuses like "I can't start now because we're going out of town next week" (that was two weeks ago) and "But we just got back home and I have so much laundry to do" (that was this week), and I know that what I need to do is quit flirting with all three and go with one and see where it takes me. The other two will be there another time (or, if they're not, they never would have lasted in the first place, right?).

No more excuses. It's the start of a new week, after all. Almost the start of a new year for me. I'm thinking the best birthday present I could give myself would be curling up in my favorite writing chair with characters I love and a story I'm dying to tell.

Now, I just have to get all of us ready for the second date.

Love's more comfortable
The second time you fall
Like a friendly home
The second time you call

Who can say
What brought us to this miracle we've found
There are those who'd bet
Love comes but once and yet

I'm oh so glad we met
The second time around

And one more way I know the second time around is always better? All I have to do is look across the room at my keeper husband . . .

I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband, am the mom/stepmom to five kids (ages 17-25), and taught high school English for 15 years. I'm over on Facebook and Twitter . My first novel, ALL THE NUMBERS was published in 2006.


  1. Happy early birthday, Judy!
    Loved your post ;). I know what you mean about it being difficult to make a decision when you have three tempting story beginnings... I'm sure you'll choose the right one for you -- or, at least, the right one right now. Fingers crossed on the current submission, too!!

  2. Thanks, Marilyn . . . for the birthday wishes, the faith that I'll choose the right story to tell, and for keeping your fingers crossed!

  3. You'll figure it out, Judy! And then you won't be able to stop writing. ;-) Hey, happy birthday early! May the year ahead be healthy and happy, ripe with good things and lots of wishes fulfilled! Hugs!

  4. I tend to like beginnings. So much possibility! Middles on the other hand... ick.

    This was a fun post!

  5. I love Frank Sinatra and the biggest problem I have is with middles.

  6. Fun post, Judy! I love the beginning of a book, when anything and everything is possible. Enjoy! And Happy Early Birthday:)

  7. Yes!! It is always so hard to choose when you have different ideas all keeping you interested. But I know you'll pick the right one! It IS like dating- you need to choose one and make that leap of faith!!

  8. Ah, procrastination, the writer's go-to lover! Forever handy and on your doorstep in a heartbeat. He's the in-between guy you date, though you're sure you don't want to marry him. I'm sure you'll show him to the door as soon as the right guy comes along--and he will!
    BTW, early Birthday Day!!

  9. You gals are all so great . . . maybe we should write a book together, you know--you all start and then I'll run with it.

  10. Great post! I don't really have this problem. I tend to obsess over one story at a time, then during the rewriting process, when the love's become kind of stale I have to resist the urge to move on to the next story before I'm done w/ the one I'm working on. It's hard to stay faithful. I'm actually writing this comment while waiting for my appointment to talk to my agent about the second novel I just sent to her. Hoping to God, that the conversation won't render me unable to work on my third book, which is after a rusty beginning, finally starting to come out in non-arthritic spurts.

    Happy Writing!

  11. Fingers crossed for the book on submission or for whichever lucky story you dance with next!

  12. Happy Birthday Judy!! I am always more comfortable the 2nd time around.

  13. Happy belated birthday. (I'm guessing I'm tardy to the party in wishing you a great year.)

    Just bought All The Numbers recently and started reading. (I'm loving it!) Was excited to realize (that at one point) I lived pretty close to you. (Live in West Co now.)