Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Beginning a book
Books may begin well. Authors do not. When an author sets out, he is only vaguely in possession of what he wants to say. He knows as much about his unwritten book as an architect knows about an unbuilt house: only, for example, how many rooms she wants, and whether the kitchen is to be central or auxiliary. The true work of composition must be done, hit or miss, from the ground up; to attempt it form the porch in will produce a monstrosity. The real beginning of a book, therefore, is always carefully suppressed. Not to do so would be an editorial sin comparable to leaving an excavation in front of a finished house.
From Robert Farrar Capon’s Prologue to An Offering of Uncles.
I found this an interesting paragraph, particularly after reading the beginning of my novel, My Twin is Dying, again, where it seemed as if I needed to go back and rewrite the way it worked because of things I'd written later in the book.