I am a piecemeal thinker. I happen to be a piecemeal writer, too. In fact, I realised today that I approach almost all of my various ventures in piecemeal fashion. While I dabble with all kinds of thoughts, quotes, mottos, concepts, I hardly ever string them together into a whole, at least not unless I put a lot of effort into it, and I usually can’t be bothered to do that. I’m not much of a rambler or ranter, either, because I never know what I want to say next, or what anything has to do with anything. *awkward pause*
However, I am also a conspiracy theorist who likes to connect the disconnected, join the disjointed, juncting the disjuncted (tiny emphasis on “junk” there). As I am thinking about piecemeal thinking, for example, all sorts of things pop into my head and link themselves to the “piecemeal” idea: my bumpy prose, my strange memory, my inability to produce coherent interpretations of literary works (unless by that you mean construing a thesis out of piecemeal observations), the way I easily lose myself in a poem’s details from which I then impose an interpretation on the entire poem, the way I’m irritated and confounded by the statement that “Milton’s blank verse is the verse-paragraph”, the way I lose interest in a project after finishing a single part (for example the way I used to paint Warhammer miniatures – spending hour upon hour on each model rather than do a quick brush-up of the entire army as was custom among my fellow Warhammer players), the way I play chess (cherishing brief tactical skirmishes and opening and endgame mechanics, but often lacking a comprehensive middle game plan), even the way I drink (slowly imbibing one gulp by splitting it up into little gulps). I’m synecdochic: I work my way from the part to a whole. But I don’t experience or perceive wholes, really. Wholes are labels referring to whatever part of the whole I can think of first. I would like to describe my thinking as a “chain of associations”, but the associations are so loose that “a ball of wool having received the kitty treatment of associations” seems a more apt metaphor.
However, the realisation that I have a tendency towards piecemeal thinking may prove to be rather redeeming and indeed productive. All you need is a hook that ties the pieces together. Here’s Alan Moore on the topic in his comments on the creation of V for Vendetta:
A couple of days later, I wrote back to Dave telling him that the Guy Fawkes idea was definitely it […] In the history of any strip or book or whatever, this is the moment where you get your real reward… the moment when all of the half-ideas and idiocies gel into something that is much more than the sum of its parts and thus entirely unexpected and utterly beautiful.