‘Everything that needs to be said has already been said,’ wrote André Gide. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.’ Our lives are an inventory of clichés. All of it has happened already to everyone else, for at least as long as people have written it all down. Toddler rages, family dramas, adolscent strops, asymmetrical fallings in and out of love, toxic friendships and enmities, worrying and delighting over children, thwarted or fudged ambitions, the slow-motion hurtle into ageing and dying – and in between, snatched moments of laughter, enlightenment and joy. All very commonplace and predictable. But these clichés still have to be lived, and written about in a way that shows how sui generis they feel when they are. As Masha says in Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, ‘we each have to solve our own lives.’ And, she might have added, we each have to write our own sentences.
From First You Write a Sentence, Joe Moran