Blog article by Nic Beveridge
Whenever I pick up a novel for the first time, I always turn to the last page. And I read it.
It rarely makes sense.
I don’t know any characters being referenced, events that have taken place, or what the protagonist went through to be where they are.
All I had were clues. An intimation of how things were going to end up.
I never felt that it ruined a story for me. But, kind of enhanced it. During times of frustration, or remorse over a mistake made – I could read on, and in a strange way enjoy it. I could start to see how it tied into the ending.
Almost three years ago I was sitting in a friend’s lounge room.
They’d had an idea, developed a concept and were about to send it live. I asked them what they wanted to make happen with it.
I was interested as to what I was about to hear. I thought of “what they wanted to make happen” as a real life novel – and they were about to recite the last page to me.
A few months after that conversation, we were at a football game together. Their concept had become real and they had a few subscribed users. It had begun to monetise. Not enough to justify working on it full time, or even part time. But it was something. And it was their creation.
14 minutes into the game and they got a notification on their phone. The platform their small user base could access had gone down.
Without a hesitation, they turned to me and said, “I’ve got to go”.
15 minutes into the game, and I was now sitting in a stadium with 25,000 other people, by myself.
There’s moments when reading a book, I’ll be able to start making sense of what was on the last page. An ending’s watershed moment, I suppose.
This person didn’t know it, and I’ve never told them, but that was when I experienced that moment in their real life novel.
It was surprisingly the most pleased I’ve felt about being abandoned.
A few years on, and they now work on that platform full time. They’ve just had to move into a second office, to accommodate the seven staff they’ve employed to cater for the quarter of a million users that engage with their business.
And I got to know that was the path it was going on, before it had happened.
I never used to tell people that I read the last page first. Like it was a piece of information that predisposed my mindset. I felt like it was something better kept to myself.
I was sitting in Sydney Airport recently waiting for a connecting flight to Canberra. A stranger sat down at the table next to mine, and said hello. In a contemporary world where people’s natural instincts are to entertain themselves – I found this odd. It caught me off-guard. But I said hello back anyway.
We started to learn more about one another. They shared that they were an author, and told me about their latest novel.
I couldn’t help myself. I told them about my reading habit.
“I read the last page first,” I said sheepishly. “I like to know the end before I start at the beginning. Even though how it got there rarely makes sense.”
There was a pause. I felt myself starting to go red. Perhaps I’d revealed too much.
“So… what do you think?” I asked.
“I think the end, is the beginning,” they replied.
“I think if you don’t know how a story ends, then it becomes more difficult to create moments that tie together and lead you to it.”
Their words stuck in my head.
I thought of my friend, and when they made the decision to leave me at the stadium by myself.
I thought about that watershed moment.
And why I’ll continue to always read the last page first.