The Beginning

I wonder about how other writers do it – about how they start off. The beginning involves a new obsession or a voice ringing around in my head that belongs to a person that isn’t me, or isn’t only me. I write incoherently in expensive notebooks or on the back of things, or type what I am thinking.

Then I cut it up and beat it senseless – something – a form – sometimes appears – like digging something fragile and complicated out of slime. I like doing the writing better than I like having written something. Except when I don’t.

I talked to a friend who does Graphic Designing and he says, yes, you start off over here, but it wobbles over there a bit (demonstrating with beer-mats) and it might veer all over the place, somewhere else, by the time you’ve started, and I said yes, you just do it and then you sort it out afterwards, make it into something when you’ve got the stuff and all the time we are nodding furiously, not tipsy, but not articulate either.

The first, incoherent stuff is very interesting to me, because there’s a dark gap between that and what it ends up being – I can’t find the missing link in the drafts. Sometimes it evolves, and sometimes I wake up and it is there on the computer like a magic-eye picture I didn’t see before, or a burglar sitting in the best chair. I like that bit.

Here’s a bit of the writing before I have cleaned the slime off it. It will end up like a spider web but at the moment it is a lump. I can see my brain getting stuck, snagging on elastic and sausages, but I am going to make this into something.

Deep-sea fish, or that woman in her caravan, getting blacker and bigger. A black pudding sausage with a rubber band around the middle. Or someone (a woman who is older than anyone I’ve written about before) saying ‘what a disgusting thing to say,’ to a man who is her husband, but quite a bit younger than her. And she says it with the G all spiky – maybe she’s not from up here, because we say it with a C, don’t we? Discusting – like that. The regionally-challenged put the G in, but it is harder work to say it like that, the G cuts the word down the middle like a rubber band, a link in a chain of sausages. She’s saying it because he’s just told her about that wonderful thing with the angler fish, and he describes the boy one biting the girl one, growing a tube between his mouth and her womb, getting the sperms into her that way, becoming a parasite, and he says, ‘he just becomes a testicle’ and their little girl is there, fascinated, helping him make senchi discs, and mother says what a disGusting thing to say, and he’s a bit crushed and feels daft. I’d bloody love a caravan. 

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