When I’m at work on a story, I never compose paragraphically. I write stand-alone sentences. I might fixate on three or four sentences a day. I’ll enlarge them to at least twenty-six-point type on the screen. I’ll futz around in their vitals, recontour their casings, and work a kind of reverse cosmetology on them to bring out any defining defects or birthmarks or swoonworthy uglinesses and whatnot. Only much later will one such sentence overcome its aloofness or diffidence and begin to make overtures to another sentence, which might be pages and pages away in the draft. The sentences eventually band together into paragraphs. The paragraphs, to me, are nervous little cliques or sororities of like-natured outcasts who put up with each other despite the friction. There’s a lot of rubbing the wrong way and very little mating of a peaceable kind. Getting something that might pass itself off as a story out of these uneasy alliances is in fact a pretty maddening and brutal ordeal. Among my deficiencies is a freaky neurological setup that keeps me from seeing wholes. So all I can see are parts, pieces, flickery fragments. I will never be up to writing a novel. It’s all I can do to even read one.
There is also a strange moment:
I almost always begin with a mood, usually a new dip of
ness and maybe, at most, just a handful of words, none of which are likely to alight together on the same page. No characters or themes or settings or conflicts or any of the intro-to-lit tackle and fittings. And I’m pretty much limited to the zeroth-person point of view.
An uncharacteristic failure to find le mot juste? Of course not. It’s probably simply a typographical error, but I hope it’s a playful use of blank space.