Sunday, 8 March 2015

Hoarder of words

I took the plunge three days ago, and threw out a neatly stashed pile of unread sections from the Saturday Guardian. I'd squirrelled these away, because, I thought, they are full of possibilities. One day I will read them all and discover a world of inspiration.






That day has yet to come. As with so much I store up for later, the now of that later never arrives. I looked at that hidden hoard of words, and realised they could only ever be added to. Unless I could stop the clock and read non-stop from start to finish.

As with so much I store up for later, the now of that later never arrives

It's the same with my own words. I have cupboards and boxes filled with notebooks and drafts, picture book stories, short stories, just the one novel (in three unfinished drafts). I read recently about writer Nell Leyshon who burned her first five years of writing, simply because these words were not good enough. Leyshon felt that the important part of the process is the practice of writing, not necessarily the words themselves.

I have certainly come across writing of mine from years ago that is so laughingly awful I've shoved it further in to the pile, but I haven't been brave enough to throw it away. I'm not sure if that's the natural hoarder in me, or the writer who doesn't quite want to let go, just in case I chuck out a tiny gem with all the rubbish.

It's as if I have a pre-arranged time in life when I will step aside, for a year or twenty, and take a long book-drenched sabbatical

Then there are books. I have ex-library books, old books from second-hand shops, new shiny books by my favourite authors, books in the sale, books with beautiful covers, books for research purposes. I have a lot of books. It's as if I have a pre-arranged time in life when I will step aside, for a year or twenty, and take a long book-drenched sabbatical. But still, in my head, I will never have enough books.

I am surrounded by a busy little working family of notebooks

And now, I am surrounded by a busy little working family of notebooks. I have one for Things Observed, one for Things Heard, one for short story seeds, another for children's story idea seeds, a book in which I write Morning (and sometimes very late in the evening) Pages, a handful of different sized notebooks for the novel I'm working on, two diaries, and a soon to arrive wall-planner (I figured I needed to scare myself with how quickly the blank writing days add up - force my hand to cross off a solid line of good writing days).

I have built-up, it seems, a protective wall of words unread and unwritten, written and hidden. Which is good. They are my wall and my castle, my armoury, as I step forth in to battle.




Don't forget to check out the rich offerings from last week's Words & Pictures:

Tuesday's wide and meaty range of discussions in Nick's ten minute blog break 
Wednesday's insights from debut author Eve Ainsworth
Thursday's double shot of news from the London Network, and information about forthcoming SCBWI illustration masterclass on International Publishing Opportunities, with Marianne Vilcoq and Bridget Marzo
Friday's Featured illustrator, Olivia Palmer
Saturday's collective illustration celebration








Nancy Saunders is the new Editor of W&P. You can find some of her short stories here, and on Twitter @nancyesaunders

2 comments:

  1. Tis a good sign to have this wall of stuff. I was heartbroken when my husband recycled all my rejection letters by mistake. Sometimes I dip into an old notebook and discover the germ of an idea that has flourished and grown into something quite different. It's nice to see it again, in its native state before it went on its journey of becoming.

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  2. Yes - great oaks begin with a tiny acorn :-) And rejection slips are things to be proud of - they show you've done the graft, and sent stuff out. I'm looking forward to gathering a wall full of those!

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