Going through my papers has taken me a lot longer than I thought it would, and I still have another few days of it. The five notepads I brought with me were full, and another three folders contained hundreds of individual pieces of paper, some torn off scraps of receipts or small sticky notes, some complete A4 pages, and some were the essential bus tickets, when I was younger I must have loved writing on the bus, but forgetting a notepad, because I had dozens and dozens of the annoyingly-hard-to-read little buggers to decipher.
Other than the sheer volume to get through (I really did underestimate it) it is a strange business. It’s like peeking at very particular moments in my past. Some of the random jottings are several years old yet I can remember the exact place and sometimes time of day that I wrote it. I wouldn’t have remembered it, probably ever, had I not looked at that scrap again, but once it’s there your mind goes back immediately, it feels very odd; and apart from being strange, it is also mentally tough. The reason is that from one piece of paper to the next your emotions can sway enormously. One sentence can bring you to a fantastic high where the certainty that this will turn into a good story is something you would bet your life on, and the next sentence…can make you drop so low you wonder what the hell you were thinking writing such utter nonsense…and to query why you are still trying!
Why did I keep so many cuttings too? I have snippets from newspapers glued into my notebooks some going back to the early 1990s and now I am going through them again, yes some are interesting and I can perhaps see why I may have wanted to keep it, a reminder of a certain emotion or situation that I would want to explore, but the majority are absolutely useless, I mean, just total random rubbish. They go nowhere, they are just little incidents of their time, they don’t merit re-reading and they certainly don’t merit exploring as potential story ideas. What a waste of time! I obviously didn’t have anything better to do.
If I had more guts I may have taken some photos and shown you, but they are so bad, so terribly, terribly bad that I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. They are now shredded beyond repair.
But you know what? Some are actually okay! I’m amazed how some have cheered me up, it’s a small percentage but it’s the reason I do it I guess.
One thing that is upsetting, which I may have mentioned before is when you stumble on a note that is written on a receipt that not only brings the memory back but is of a place that you remember well because it was a favourite place. For instance, I got quite upset when I read a little scribble on the back of a receipt that came from a pub I used to love going to, it wasn’t a lifetime ago but October 2008, it must have been a decent round because it was nearly twenty five pounds, and it was only seventeen past nine so couldn’t have been shots just yet...maybe…It makes you think of the state of mind I must have been in to write this, but of course, as is probable, I wrote it on the train home, or train into work the next day once I found it in my pocket, or something like that. I doubt I wrote it immediately; it’s possible but not likely. It’s more the case that it reminds me of things that a plain piece of torn out notebook wouldn’t have. The reason I say it is upsetting is that I don’t know if it helps my writing or not; remembering the occasion an idea came to mind, probably, it may help drag up emotions, but am I forcing myself to live in the past when that’s not good for you? Just because I can remember a moment in the past doesn’t mean I have the skill to translate that onto paper, but then isn’t that what people do? Use emotions, whether past or present, to produce art? Well, we shall see I suppose, I will soon get found out if the work I produce this year is not an improvement. (Receipts by the way - they have my name on them, the merchant id, location, date and time…did that night tally up with some sort of event? Was it a birthday? A party of some kind? An exhibition opening night? A retirement party? A promotion party, and so on? if I had kept all my receipts I wonder if I could trace my entire adult life?)
One last upsetting thing about going through notes… February 2004, July 2001, November 2006, August 1999, January 1994 and so on…why have I have kept on to them for so long before doing anything! If you are reading this and think you have an idea for something, then just bloody well get on with it now! Don’t wait because there is a chance you never will go back to it…it will just sit there in a drawer and someone else, somewhere else, will write it instead. There is something to be said about being ‘ready’ to write, I understand that, and I think I have blogged about it before, maturing and growing older is a process that can develop ‘readiness’ in itself (this goes for any creative outpouring) but then again, there is definitely something to be said about just getting off your backside and getting on with it too. I may not be ‘ready’ to tackle some of the subjects I want to, I may not be skilled and experienced enough, but by leaving all these ideas just to rot, that hasn’t done anything to improve my skill, or gain myself experience; sometimes you just have to get on with it.
All the best everyone,
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