‘I don’t normally do this’, is a terrible first sentence. A better first sentence would be: ‘I like to think that I don’t normally do this’. Yet, there are at least two problems with my preferred first sentence:
- It’s already the second sentence, and logically can no longer be the first.
- There is a strong possibility that I have used some version of it before to make exactly the kind of facile joke I’m attempting to make here.
You’d be right in thinking that there’s an easy fix to the second problem. Surely, I could just dredge the dark recesses of my memory to check whether I have already made this joke. I did try that, I was unsuccessful. No worries, you say, you can go and check your previous work and find the place you’ve used this joke before. Fair enough, that is an elegant solution. But here’s the difficulty: I may not have written very much by modern standards – standards memed out in proscriptive writing advice on social media; advice dispensed by writers in much the way that T.S. Elliot appears to have measured his life in coffee spoons – but, by my own standards, I have written quite a bit. That means there is a lot of material to go through. Honestly, I’m just too lazy to do that.
Okay Arthur, you say, why not just delete the first sentence, and use your preference instead? That way, you add, in a reasonable and even-tempered voice, there will be exactly no problems at all, and I would not have had to read all this waffle.
That’s an excellent point, and I thank you for making it so kindly. However, I can’t do that. The reason I can’t, is that if I do, all the ‘waffle’, as you so eloquently put it, would have to go. Then, all I’d be left with is a ‘better first sentence’ and nothing else. Which is to say, I’d have to start all over again. I’m just too lazy to do that, too … this week, at any rate.
I can see, by the look I imagine you have on your face, that you are starting to feel quite exasperated with me. Tell you what, I’ll just take a quick break to measure out my life T.S. Elliot style, while you take some deep breaths.
Alright, I’m back … No? Too soon? You need a little more time? I’ll come back in a few more minutes, then. What? You need an hour? That’s a lot of coffee for me, but I’ll respect your personal space.
Ah, I see you are looking much better, very calm. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think you look too calm; you seem to be radiating a scary sort of quiet. It’s just my imagination you say? Well, if you’re sure. Shall we continue? Good.
… What was I saying? Oh yes, we were discussing my ‘lazy-waffle’ problem. Or, as I normally call it: the waffle-to-writing-work-paradox. Just kidding, I don’t normally call it that, I don’t usually call it anything; chiefly because, before I wrote it just now, I’ve never even seen that term. (It counts as a term, rather than a label or phrase, right? I mean, producing it as a hyphenate-chain technically makes it one word, no?) Huh … I see your face seems to be turning a little blue. Are you alright? Not hypoxic or anything? You don’t look fine, but I’ll take your word for it. Tell you what, since I’m a little concerned for your well-being, I’ll just make some pre-textual edits, and jump ahead to the point of all this waffle, why I am writing it now, and why I like to think I don’t normally do this.
I cannot be sure how it is for other writers. I cannot even be sure if I am a writer; there seem to be so many of us now, that it would probably be easier to work out who isn’t one. (It would be easy, because they wouldn’t be able to read, a definite precondition of not being able to write; at least, as I understand these things.) I just say I’m a writer because, well, I write, and it seems true enough. My non-readers will make their own judgements on that. What I can say, is that to the extent I do write, my output is largely waffle. I believe it to be artful and well crafted waffle – perhaps even entertaining, in a wafflish sort of way – but waffle nonetheless.
To call my output waffle is not toxic self-criticism. I like my writing; which is just as well. Referring to my work waffle is merely an honest assessment of what it is I think I do. It is also consistent with my location as a writer in the Whimsilist tradition. That is, someone whose genre is that of whimsical-silliness, A.K.A.: Whimsilism. (I know for certain that I have a post that deals with this genre in a superficial way, written when I had not been Arthur for very long, and called Genre and Matters “Ism”.) This means, that if I had followed your suggestion to make my preferred sentence the opening one for this post, you would’ve ended up reading waffle anyway. Also, I would have had to do twice the work for the same result, which is not very efficient, even if it does mean I’m a little lazy. So, the point of this waffle, is that all Arthur Wingsmith is waffle on purpose; ergo: waffle is its own point, and is why I am writing it now.
But, as I said, I like to think I don’t normally do this. That seems contradictory, right? Especially since I have just spent the better part of two paragraphs trying to convince you that, in fact, I normally do exactly this kind of thing. Indeed, I have successfully argued that this is about the only thing that I normally do. Well spotted; you are, of course, completely right about that. However, I meant something different by ‘normally’ when I said it at the begining of this post. Allow me to explain.
This is not the post I had intended to publish today. In truth, I had not intended to publish anything at all for another two weeks. I am working on a story at the moment (hashtag, am writing), but it has become clear that it is going to be more complicated than how it looked when I wrote down the premise in my notebook. Still, it’s going well – thanks for asking – and I am enjoying the process immensely. It will take more than the two weeks I have left on my temporal budget, though. So, I’m posting this to buy some time. While I have moved to a longer publication cycle since I defeated the bats and other miscellaneous nature (which I told you a little about last post), I clearly didn’t count on the story I am currently writing needing more weeks than I have allotted. The good news is that, with this waffle-post, I have secured at least another month. And this is a strategy I like to think I don’t normally use … but have … hopefully just this once.
My attempt to get more time is not the only reason I have done this, however; and this is something I don’t normally use writing for. You see, for no real reason that I can identify, I’ve had a marginally disappointing week. Here I am, on a Friday for me, looking into the deep abyss of the weekend with the strong feeling I have accomplished exactly nothing in the last five days. So, I thought, write something, post it, and see if that makes you feel better. Maybe, I reasoned, it will seem like a real achievement, or at least the facade of one. I have excellent news on that score: it has made me feel better, and does have the appearance of my having done something superficially worthwhile. Success!
Well, that’s about it for this unscheduled post. But, before I go, I would just like to say that you – Dear Reader – have helped a lot in the process of salvaging my week. I thank you from the bottom of my Whimsilist heart. We made a real connection today, don’t you think?