Write the Introduction Last

So I’m rereading a creative philosophy/help book called Creative Thursday.  I rather liked it the first time around, but generally I find that most books like that will give you more if you give them a second read.  The first time you’re concentrating on reading too much to absorb everything and the second time allows a bit more leisure, but that’s all beside the point.

Introductions are a hit or miss thing to me for the most part.  I won’t pretend that I don’t skip them, I often skip them especially for fictional work because it’s completely irrelevant to the story, also they’re rarely actually written by the author of the book so I really tend not to care what someone else has decided to analyze about a work I haven’t yet read.

Non-fiction is different.  I try to give non-fiction introductions a shot, even if they’re for memoirs.  Hell, especially if they’re from memoirs because some of the best gems are hidden in introductions.  But anyway, introductions for non-fiction are different because they’re there to give you an idea of what you’re about to read.  Interesting then that so often in an introduction an author will say something along the lines of “Heh, I wrote this introduction last.  Isn’t that crazy?”  I get why they say it, don’t get me wrong.  It’s the first part of the book but it was written last, that does seem out of order.  But when you really think about it, it isn’t.  If you try to write an introduction about a book that hasn’t yet been written you’re doing one of two things: Writing something that will ultimately prove to be wrong and you’ll have to rewrite it anyway OR you’re pigeon-holing yourself with expectations and then you have to tailor the book to those expectations and you’re work will suffer for it.

The book is what informs the introduction so naturally the introduction should be last.  I think this is pretty good to keep in mind about a lot of things really, including yourself.  Define yourself by who and what you are, not who and what you “should be”.

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