Before you begin writing, you must be ready to reject the first two paragraphs, and, on some days, you must do three. You must do this no matter how good they are, even if the words flow like a life that knows no trouble and a love that knows no deceit. Even then, you must erase them before you even get a chance to look at them properly, to read them through. It is not about the writing or the quality of the words but only about what they say. They are what you’d call the slag and the lather. They are what you feel in the moment, how you felt during the day. They are what a person may have said to you because they weren’t on their best behaviour. You must wash your hands and your soul off them. Before you begin writing, you must go through a proverbial baptism and sit without anything that drags you down. It is the only way to ensure that your writing responds to the grave problem of existence and is not a knee-jerk reaction to the world. On most days, this alone will make your words seem polished.
How do you always have something to say? They ask when they question me about my writing. You should see what I don’t say, I tell them. The words would stretch out for miles and cover the Earth enough times for you to stop keeping track of their journey. There is so much I don’t say in these words, in general, when I am out and about.
I wonder why that is, but all these years of playing with words have taught me that once you say something, you can rarely take it back. You can use more words to counter what you said earlier, of course, and that is perfectly valid, but you can never erase what is uttered once, even in laughter, even in joy, even in the lightest of spirits. All of us have to be sure of what we should say, and it often is best to look past the first thing that comes to our mind.
That is all my little method achieves. It discards the first thing that comes to my mind, and to be sure, it discards the second, the third, and even the fourth, sometimes. It rejects until there is little to reject. Then, I can sit and write peacefully. If the thought I write about was not wandering in the gardens of my mind before I sat to write, I am sure it is a good one.