“Prompted” or “Line Crossing”

I once read a friend’s blog post  in which she shared a prompt from A Year of Writing Dangerously” by Barbara Abercrombie: “What is your own metaphor for fear of writing that first line?”

Duly “moved to act; spurred; incited”/”inspired”, I wrote this (which took me forever to share here with you, but hey, it’s every bit as relevant now in the throes of NaNoWriMo as it was many moons ago).


It’s not that first line that’s so hard. It’s the second.


A first line can go anywhere;

It’s the step that brings you to the crossroads, all paths spread out before you.

The second step is the commitment.

It’s the choosing; the saying, “This is the road I’ll follow, to whatever end.”

“The End” is the easiest line to write, and the hardest line to get to;

So many lines lie between the opening and close.


It’s the second line that requires determination; the third line, even more than that…

The starting is easy. Anyone can start a thing (though not all will),

But seeing it through? Continuing on? Walking step by step, writing line by line, no stopping, no excuses ‘til journey’s completion?

Far easier to amass a collection of beginnings, no endings in sight.

So much simpler to pen a quote than a novel.

A blank page intimidates less than the opening phrase followed by, “Now what?”

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and… and… shoot, give me a minute.” – Robert Frost, sort of
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and… and… shoot, give me a minute.” – Robert Frost, sort of

Now come the missteps. Now come the stumbles. Now the erased graphite and scratched-out scribbles of the pen.

Now we see the marks of our mistakes, and now we fear.

Now we know how little we know.

Now we wonder how much we have to give, and how much of this we can take.

It takes a lot to mar a pristine page beyond the words of which of you’re sure,

To creep and crawl, and trip and fall, and double back until you find your way.


To cross the starting line is easy.

Now for the finish line.


Feeling prompted, anyone? I invite you to share your response!

2 thoughts on ““Prompted” or “Line Crossing”

  1. I think writing the first line is like starting on a crazy road trip. You think you know where you’re going, and who’s going with you, and where you’ll stop along the way, but sometimes you’ve got to stop where you didn’t plan. Sometimes your companions decide they’ve had enough, and they’d like to get out of the car. That, or a couple more try to squeeze their way in. And every so often, you get lost along the way and have absolutely no idea where you’ll end up. Sometimes it’s so much worse than you planned, and sometimes it’s so much better.
    The first line is hard because this is where it all starts. This is where you look out at the car and realize, “Oh, am I really doing this?” It’s your chance to turn back, to go back inside and stick with your regular, every day life. It’s daunting and exciting all at once, and it is only for the brave of heart.

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