Perhaps a year ago, I was listening to the radio when a book review came on, an author's voice reading the first sentence of her novel. "For a long time," she read, "my mother wasn't dead yet." What a terrific beginning, I thought. (And in case you're wondering, it's from Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson).
Of course, the sentence itself is wonderful - wistful, intriguing, heartrending. But even the first part, the fragmentary "for a long time," echoed in my head. It suggests the end of the known present and the beginning of an unimaginable future. "One day," it implies, and this is the place all literature begins, "everything was different."
Today, I invite you to complete that sentence in your own way. Set the timer for 15 minutes and put your hands on the keyboard. Think about a familiar state that is interrupted. Imagine, what could possibly come next? Then begin: "For a long time..."