This Blog post has been sitting in my draft box for about a week. So as you can see, I have a really big problem with deadlines. I think the problem lies in the fact that they are called deadlines. Maybe it’s the impending doom that the connotation of the word invokes. As soon as I hear it, my brain starts going into overtime, I start sweating and my mind starts reeling. I have something to do, and I have a date in which it has to be done. Or else… well? or else what?  I’m not going to die, so why’s it called a deadline? Perhaps it should be called lifeline.


This seems to have more or less a similar connotation, except that it feels more like I’m hooked up to a respirator without which, I would die –Lifeline as in lifeline or  flatline-  But it also has a salvation connotation to it, as if I had been floundering and someone has thrown me a lifeline. Thus, thinking of a lifeline instead of a deadline, only works when I have managed to get myself in a state of paralysing fear, so it isn’t quite useful here.


I have come, perhaps rather late, to the conclusion that it might be better I called it openingline. This has a rather nice ring to it. For me, an opening line is very important, most of my stories and poems start with an opening line I like. They are where inspiration lies. One great opening sentence can carry me through a whole story or poem. And when that fails, when inspiration deserts me, I can always turn to the classics and perhaps learn from the best.


My top 3 favourite opening-lines are:

1)Moby Dick by Herman Melville:

“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”

Ever since I read it I thought it was great, it succinctly introduces the reader to the main character and also tells the reader what is going to happen.

2)Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca:

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

It might not tell me much but it is just a great sentence to start a novel.

3)Out of Africa by Karen Blixen:

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”

I like this one probably because it reminds me of my Grandma’s house in Africa.

What’s your favourite?



One thought on “Deadlines

  1. Well I also love the opening line of Moby Dick. Ever since I read it back in ’96, it has always stuck with me: ‘Call me Ishmael.’

    Here are my current favorites, I opted for more contemporary titles:

    1) The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill:

    “I seem to have trouble dying.”

    Now if that doesn’t suck you into a book, I don’t know what will.

    2) Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    “Master was a little crazy; he had spent too many years reading books overseas, talked to himself in his office, did not always return greetings, and had too much hair.”

    Bam! I have a well-drawn character with the opening sentence of the book.

    3) Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

    “For a man his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well.”

    Well I’d definitely like to know what this man’s solution is.

    I guess what I love about these openings is their captivating power and the way they tell so much about a character with few words.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s