The Trial was different. It had a beginning, where the lightning of the indictment had to strike, and an end, where the sentence had to be carried out. Hence there was a framework in which a series of loosely connected scenes followed inexorably from the idea of the whole. Kafka worked only on the scene that most preoccupied him at the moment, sometimes in one notebook, sometimes in another. If no empty notebook was available for additional drafts, he turned around a used one and continued writing from the back. He wrote the beginning and the end of the novel first and possibly even simultaneously.
— Reiner Stach, Kafka: The Decisive Years (tr. Frisch)
It’s all right
Unless you’re either lonely or under attack.
That strange effortful
Repositioning of yourself. Laundry, shopping,
Hours, the telephone—unless misinformed—
Only ever ringing for you, if it ever does.
The night—yours to decide,
Among drink, or books, or lying there.
On your back, or curled up.
An embarrassment of poverty.
Get out of my head, I tell X, no not you, actually yes you, especially you, and all the others too. Get out and let me be. You and all the rest of them. It’s like being circled by eagles and vultures and who knows who’s an eagle and who a vulture. Everywhere I go I have to look up, everywhere I go there’s some stupid danger I have to look out for, I say, never can I be myself, how could I when I always have to look out for you and all the rest of you, guard myself against you, defend myself against you, attack you, get out of my head, I say.
I’m cornered, I tell X, they’ve cornered me, they’ve humiliated me, like an animal, like a criminal, like a refugee. I’m backing up on my hands and feet, but they’ve got me in a corner, they’re killing me, except they’re not, not yet, next time I see them I’ll tell them to their faces, I’ll show them who they really are, I’ll back them up, I’ll corner them and I’ll kill them. Except I won’t, will I, I tell X, because even as I corner them I’ll still be cornered, I’ll be carrying my corner into their corner, even as I kill them they’ll be killing me.