How do I start? Where do I begin in my annuary?
I love this question! Although the true answers are too numerous to count, I only ever say one thing. And I don’t give options. Because I know why you’re asking.
Some of you are born writers. Put a pen in your hand, and it won’t stop flowing. You have been collecting stories for years and now it is finally time to write them out. Your heart imagines a distant ancestor cracking open your book, then cracking up at your witty stories or sighing at your sage advice. You’ve always thought you would write a novel someday. Or maybe you already have! Your daily journals fill up a bookshelf and a few dusty boxes already, and a coffee shop in town has already become your unofficial office away from home. God bless each and every one of you – but not one of you has stopped to ask me this question: How do I start? No, you have questions of your own like, “Where can I get extra pages?” or “Can a person fill up more than one book?” You have written two and a half pages in your annuary before you even reached the checkout counter.
So what do I love so much about this question? Because not all of us can be born writers. Lives filled with strength and brokenness and joy are lived by writers and non-writers alike. And it is the non-writers who ask. They come to this project and peer into a new idea. I love this moment of tenderness and apprehension that comes at the beginning. I feel it myself when I write in my annuary too. Where do I begin? This question is equal parts eager and unsure. And if you’ve ever felt unsure about a writing project, you’re in good company. We wanted to take the stress and timeline and competition out of this process. We designed the annuary to be a place that is forgiving, honoring, and patient. Embrace that there is no deadline, no grade, no judge, and no posting. I see you, who harbor this quiet stress about writing itself. I share this apprehension and I know it well. For you there is only one way I answer this question, though the possibilities are endless:
Start with last year.
Because if a year passes before you do anything else, you have still begun. We have included some other good ideas in Part I about how you can fill in the rest, but that wasn’t the question, was it? Enjoy, and write what you want to remember.
– Jennifer Wade