Of course, I’ve always known this. It’s a rare day when I write something that works perfectly first time. More often than not, everyday stresses and concerns intrude on my writing time, meaning that my mind is never as focused as I would wish it to be. The end result is that I not only write sentences back to front, I also write paragraphs inside out, and write them in the wrong order, too. It’s like my mind has all the information it needs to write the story, but because there’s so much more traffic circulating through the old noggin, it comes out a little jumbled. Those are the days that come back to haunt you during revision.
On a wider scale, I sometimes deliberately write out of order, too. For instance, on my last 157,000 word novel, I had the last couple of chapters written not long after the first few. Then I wrote the middle, and then all the other bits that joined everything up.
Now I’ve discovered a new non-linear wrinkle in my universe. I have just begun preparations on a new project. I will be publishing one of my older novels at Halloween – a horror novel, of course, to suit the season – and simultaneously a short story collection in the same genre. Re-reading these works with a mind to updating them slightly, I discovered (or re-remembered) something curious. The novel is called COMEBACK, which was inspired by one of the short stories in the upcoming collection, which is called COME BACK. I only realised when I looked at them both again, that although the novel was inspired by the short story, the short story was in fact only written after the novel was finished. The short story existed purely in my head for about a year before I ever wrote any of it down, during which time I’d already banged out the novel.
I wonder what would happen if we could live our lives in a non-linear fashion. Not just in reverse, say, like Benjamin Button, but just all over the place. I think it might be a little like living in a Chris Nolan film.