I feel like I’m playing a game of Pipe Mania.
If you’ve never played it before, it’s a highly-addictive puzzle game. You start with a tap and a drain. Your task is to place an odd assortment of plumbing pieces in a way that leads to the drain, forming as many loops as possible for bonus points. Don’t end up in a corner. Don’t box yourself in. Don’t run out of time. If you run out of time then green ooze comes out of the tap and kills you.
At this stage I have a drain – the ending that I’ve carefully worked out – and the tap (my “creativity” I guess). Then there are the words which are the higgldy pigglty tiles that I have to put in order before April 30.
The first tile is one of the hardest to place. It defines how the game will go, just how they say the first five pages define the fate of your novel.
If you make the wrong decision with that first tile, you might head off in the wrong direction, it might lead to your demise by trapping you in a corner, it may prevent you getting the loops that win you those extra points. With novels they constantly say the same thing. Without a strong beginning no one reads further.
At the same time, you can’t wait too long before placing that tile or writing that first paragraph. Eventually you have to just make a call and do it.
So that’s what I did last night, at 11pm. I placed my starting tile. It’s not a nice straight tile either, it’s one that kinks off to the side precariously close to a wall. I’m not at all confident about that tile. It’s not going to be one of the impressive loop ones and it’s not going to shoot me straight into the middle of the board like a straight one would, but I can’t afford to get stuck here on block one when there are 29 other pieces to place before I reach the “drain”.
It may not be perfect but it’s better than ooze.