No Beginnings

Beginnings and endings are contingent things anyway; inventions, devices. Where does any story really begin? There is always context, always an encompassingly greater epic, always something before the described events, unless we are to start every story with “BANG! Expand! Sssss…”, then itemise the whole subsequent history of the universe before settling down, at last, to the particular tale in question.

– Iain M. Banks, The Algebraist

It must be arbitrary, then, the place at which we choose to embark.

– Clive Barker, Weaveworld

I would say that I’m bad at beginnings, but I’m not sure that’s true. I’m bad at endings, or possibly just challenged at producing enough middles so that endings are possible. But the start of an endeavor produces a particular kind of terror, the blank page stretching ahead perfect and unmarred, waiting for all the mistakes to be made.

Nonetheless, everything has to start somewhere. So here we are.

Therefore, by way of introduction: Hello, and welcome! I’m Dan; I am (in no particular order) a writer and student of the craft of language, both professionally and avocationally; a musician and music lover with broad and eccentric tastes; a nerd; a Unitarian Universalist; a feminist and LGBTQ advocate, and supporter of social justice in general; a cook and gourmand; a former Theatre major; a poet, or at least a versifier with pretentions; and, maybe more than anything else, a lover of stories, without much prejudice as to the medium they’re conveyed in. I expect I’ll be writing about all of these things here, and the places where they intersect, as well as whatever other shiny topics or ideas present themselves to me.

This is not a beginning. This is simply where things go forward. Watch this space.

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About Dan L-K

I write, I edit, I make music, I enthuse nerdily about nerdy things. View all posts by Dan L-K

7 responses to “No Beginnings

  • Elly Zupko

    “At Odds is my first published novel, but it’s not the first novel I’ve ever written. In fact, I have a stack of unfinished manuscripts that would probably stand taller than myself. The reason is: I’m terrible with endings. I actually don’t like to see things end, so I tend to leave them unfinished. One of my favorite examples is Blade Runner. I always stop it before the scene where they drive into the countryside.” Chuckles throughout the audience. “One of the greatest movies of all time, and that stupid happy ending the studio made Ridley Scott tack on just ruins it for me. They should have left that countryside in The Shining, where it belonged.” He offered a half grin, the looked down at this notes to continue.

    “Anyway, the point is that an ending that feels contrived or rings the wrong emotional note or is in some other way false—that kind of ending can ruin everything that came before it. The sacredness of the beginning, of the middle, are lost forever. So in that way, I’d kind of always frightened myself out of writing endings.”

    Putting one of his feet behind him, he rested his forearms on the podium and leaned forward. “I was able to finish At Odds because it doesn’t have an ending. I’ve heard the structure described as a figure eight, or an infinity symbol. The blank page, of course, is the fulcrum of that figure. But a description I find more accurate, and indeed the one I had in mind when I wrote the thing is a mirror. In that case, the blank page is the piece of glass between the world and its reflection. In a way, that image is also infinite, and you know that if you’ve ever held a mirror up to a mirror.

    “When one looks into a mirror, one only sees the unfinished, as we are all unfinished. We spend our lives beginning, and we are all unfinished in death. Death is an end—the end, perhaps, depending who you ask—but we don’t get to create our own endings. I felt it would be dishonest to myself and to David Murrow for me to create an ending for him. Instead, I allow him to exist infinitely in both directions.”

    He held up a finger and cocked his head slightly. “Interestingly enough, due to my amazing readers—who I’ll admit, I may have underestimated—I think infinity exists also within the blank page. The interpretations of what happens there, where nothing happens, are themselves infinite. And I can take no credit for the creation of that.”

    “So what happens on the blank page?” came a shout from the back of the audience.

    A sly, knowing grin spread across Cyrus’ face and he shook his head slowly. “I’ll never tell.”

  • antiprincess

    I love the word “gourmand”. Welcome back!

  • Vishal

    Woohoo! Bloggery! How 00s of you in the post social media world. I approve, of course.

  • Dan L-K

    Elly, that’s lovely. Is it one of yours?

    Antiprincess, it’s good to be back. And we gourmands should just go ahead and own it.

    V, my administrative-Unitarian eye keeps parsing that as “Order of Service,” though it’s probably more accurately “out of step.” And this is social media, dammit. 🙂

    It’s part of my Special Plan, of course. And because when people you like say they miss reading you, you damn well give them something to read.

  • Elly Zupko (@ellyzupko)

    Thanks, Dan! Yeah, it’s an excerpt from a backburner novella, that’s thematically very much about beginnings and endings. Thought it was apt, and it was nice to dust that one off.

  • allVishal

    Actually it’s ‘double-Ohs’ aka ‘the noughties’ aka ‘whatever we decide to call the last decade’. 😀

  • Dan L-K

    I’m very fond of “the noughties” and wish it would catch on here in the US. I’d do more to promulgate it, but there are only so many ways a fellow can hold his own against his nation’s Puritan heritage.

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