How First Liners Led to Deeper Analysis of 2014

This is my 500th blog post and came out much more self-absorbed and personal than I intended. But it’s perhaps an important marker and reminder for me in years to come. For those of a squeamish disposition, look away now. Normal service will resume shortly.

The delightful Annabel introduced me to a really fun and easy meme: a year’s worth of blog posts condensed in first lines.The “rules” are simple: Take the first line of each month’s first post over the past year and see what it tells you about your blogging year. Links go back to the original posts. So I started off with great enthusiasm:


So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
(from a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye) – the quotation-filled post was entitled Poems to Celebrate New Beginnings

But after that it was downhill all the way. My first liners were pedestrian, prosaic, just plain boring – summarising lots of reading or introducing other people’s reading habits. There was little sparkle or insight there. Which got me thinking that, really, that’s what 2014 has been like for me. This blog is nearly three years old and the first year 2012 was all about rediscovering writing, 2013 was all about balancing the brain-numbing professional success with my love of reading and writing. But what of 2014?

It’s been a knotty year of ‘nots’. Not travelling or working quite so much. Not buying into the dreaded corporate speak or business targets. But also not writing, not finishing the final edits of Novel No. 1, not starting on Novel No. 2, not writing as many poems as I would have liked, not feeling inspired. A year of not making any new friends, not joining the parents’ associations at the new schools, not getting involved in fundraising and cake-baking.

It’s been a year of ‘overs’ – over-worrying, over-explaining, over-analysing, over-imagining and over-reading. Those 180 or so books I’ve swallowed – don’t you think they are some displacement activity? A way to bury yourself into someone else’s words instead of having to find your own? A subtle way to keep the most fearsome thoughts at bay? What was I hoping to find in them, answers, solutions, or mere temporary distraction? Dispersed attention, dissed author, discombobulated, distorted pictures, yet kept on moving.

Finally, it’s also been a year of ‘burning’. Burning bridges – or thinking about it – or dreaming about it and waking up with a matchbox in my hands. Burning deep, ugly brand marks into the palms of my hands – just because I could, just to remind myself that I was alive. Burning hurtful words into my memory, so that, someday, when the emotions are less raw, I could turn them into searing fiction others can relate to. Burning up inside. With all that I cannot express or must suppress. Burning with righteousness and sense of injury. Burning with anger. Turning into an ugly monster spouting lava slurs and watching my own children turn equally ugly and full of invectives. Burning to cinders all that I have, all that I am. Hoping to renew. Having lost hope in phoenix-like rebirths or reinventions.

It’s been a fallow field of a year. But I tell myself that fields need to be allowed to breathe and regenerate, to mitigate the build-up of pathogens and pests, to rebuild its nutrients for the more fertile periods to follow. Yet farming annals tell us that a field can also be at its most vulnerable to erosion when it lies fallow.

For a writer, however, even erosion is good. Nothing is lost… except time.

Tick tock!