First and Last

I hang onto first sentences.  I hoard them about my person, on my office notice board and, more often than not, on torn pieces of paper crumpled in the midst of snotty tissue, conker shells and secreted Daim wrappers in the darkest recesses of my trouser pockets.  They are normally scrawled, semi-legibly on to whatever paper is immediately available, with whatever writing implement comes to hand and, by the time they are dredged from the lint-lined depths, have lost all relevance to whatever train of thought they were intended to precipitate.  I like to think that this is a good thing.  I somehow write a post that follows on from this disembodied little nosegay and, more often than not, like yourselves, have no idea of where it is likely to take me.  I hope that it’s exciting, but I fear it is merely confusing, like mistaking episode three for episode two, when you fell asleep half way through episode one of what turned out to be a completely different series which actually followed on from series two, most of which you missed altogether.  Like Blade Runner, The Matrix and ice hockey…

Over my time on this platform I have fielded more questions than I would like to admit about my writing process.  The general consensus appears to be that I have a theme to work to and various bullet-points that I meet on my way to the conclusion.  Sadly I do not.

Generally I am aware of my theme only after I have finished writing and I only know what the conclusion is because it comes at the end.  Bullet points would only provide me with something to miss along the way.  The ‘grand idea’ almost always comes after the writing is finished and I know the ending only after I have reached it.  It is a ridiculously amateurish way of writing, I know, but it is all that I have.  It is like knitting a blanket and deciding that it’s a pullover only after you discover it has sleeves.  Most of my time is taken up in trying to get the sleeve out of the neck-hole and the pattern running in the right direction.

On the rare occasions that I have a point to make, I have forgotten it long before I have worked out how to punctuate the first sentence.  The content of my brain generally just overflows onto the paper – the basis of my conviction that shit floats –  and such concentration as I can muster goes into making some sense of it all.  It is seldom the sense that I intended. 

It works like this: I pick one of my paper scraps and write whatever it says at the top of a blank sheet of paper.  I stare at it for a while.  I write a second sentence to stop the first one getting lonely and stare at that for a while.  I decide not to worry and I allow my mind to wander about for a few hundred words.  I stop.  I attempt to conjure up a final sentence that has some connection, however vague, to the first.  I transcribe the whole thing onto the laptop, convinced that the right font and line spacing will sort it all out.  I read it through and realise why I have worked in a shop all my life.  In a panic, I attempt to add some jokes, but quickly realise that putting a red nose on a pallbearer doesn’t stop him delivering the coffin.

I despair.  I eat chocolate.  I stare at the first sentence.  I formulate a plan to hang on to last sentences too…

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6 thoughts on “First and Last

  1. Rules were made to be broken. It would be very boring if everything was regimented. One’s style should be unique. I would offer to send chocolate, but American chocolate is dreadful.

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