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Friday, July 4, 2008

Novel starts

Mommy's Nintendo is looking for a beginning to her novel. So that's prompted me to think about beginnings. Beginnings are tricky. They're also exciting. They're tricky because they're elusive. Nothing's more daunting than a blank page, and nothing's harder to get down on that page than the opening scene. But there is a trick to it. Forget the scene; write the first sentence. The rest will follow.

Hemingway said he began by writing the truest sentence he knew. I'm not sure that's accurate. On the other hand, Hemingway revised constantly and slavishly. So who knows what really happened to that first "true" sentence? Did it eventually end up in the middle of the story? Did it simply get crossed out? But the point is, nothing follows until that sentence is written.

And that brings me to the exciting part. Once that sentence is down on the page, the possibilities are limitless. The story can go anywhere. But at the same time, the final inevitability that is the end of the story is already there. What lies ahead is the fascinating journey of getting to it, the exploration of limitless possibilities. Who wouldn't want to write? And what do we get when we're done exploring? T. S. Eliot told us at the end of "Little Gidding":

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

I have a couple of suggestions for Mommy's Nintendo if she want to use them:

1) Everyone standing around me thought I was a vegetable.


2) I have become totally irrelevant.

Feel free to ignore those sentences or to take one or even both and run with them, MN.


  1. I hadn't considered starting at the end...

  2. I think it's totally cool that "The Grandpa" has a blog! I wish I could convert my family members!

    (I'm over from Itsy Bitsy.)