When you win a game in a chess tournament – when you’ve been sitting across the board from a stranger whom you’ve been mentally engaged with for three or four hours, when the two of you have combined to dance the pieces around until one of you has found a solution, when the clock is ticking down and the penmanship on your scoresheet is devolving – you feel fab. You are on top of the world. Your brain triumphed.
When you write something that feels right – when you’ve been staring at an empty screen or a sheet of paper for so long that you’re close to snow-blind, or when you realize you haven’t been writing, you’ve been typing, and this is the first sentence that’s not only worth saving, it’s worth sharing – it’s a similar feeling. Your writing is not a pas de deux as in chess, but you’ve still triumphed.
I’ve been looking for a while for a knockout opening line for my book. I was thousands of words away from the opening when a candidate broke the surface somewhere in the back of my head. I tried it out. It works. And I can see the influence from one of my literary idols. My brain triumphed.
That’s all I wanted to report tonight. I wrote some sentences today. I hit one of them over the fence.
Can’t let you go without a chess quote
From the fourth world chess champion, Alexander Alekhine (pronounced “Al-yekken”):
I would like to be able to create alone without the necessity, as in games, of adjusting my plans to those of an opponent, in order to create something that will last. Oh! This opponent, this collaborator against his will, whose notion of Beauty always differs from yours and whose means (strength, imagination, technique) are often too limited to help you effectively! What torment, to have your thinking and your fantasy tied down by another person!
In writing, we are all on our own. Thank God.