Lost Words

I’ve destroyed or lost countless pieces of writing over the years. Words and effort burnt, thrown away, deleted or mislaid a thousand times.

I remember a square spiral bound notebook I had at university in which I wrote up all my stories as neatly as possible (a hard thing to do when you’re not blessed with neat writing and your mind’s busy writing the thing after the thing you’re transcribing) – some of them only really scenes and snapshots. It didn’t survive. Burnt. But I remember the strongest of the stories it contained.

I remember my storybook from primary school, age 10 or so. Along with that of a friend who had particularly neat writing, it was snaffled by the school to use as some sort of evidence that Kids Do Good Stuff Here and probably found itself travelling to the tip with a skipful of old chairs and hymn books decades ago.

I remember a couple of horror stories I wrote, one at 8ish and one at 14ish. One got lost in the mists of time and the other vanished into the schoolwork heap. I remember one with total clarity but only get flashes of feeling from the other.

I remember a blog hardly anyone knew about, deleted long ago, though some of its ideas have since been recycled. Word and OpenOffice documents galore have met their match at the hands of a dissatisfied Cat and shift-delete.

But alongside the narrative carnage, I’ve been preserving certain writing with the care and attention you’d lavish on a signed first edition. My diaries, of course, survive in all their cringe-inducing glory. But then there are the stories that one way or another needed preserving.

These are the documents that have made it from PC to PC numerous times, some of them making their first few transfers on floppy disks (remember those, kids?) having been typed up from longhand. These are the documents of which I have multiple copies squirrelled away, Just In Case.

I’m not sitting on a pile of would-be bestsellers; this is the group of documents with which I can’t bring myself to part. They have too much in them.

There are poems that I wrote taking the mickey out of certain teachers or when leaving, or even doing, particular jobs – unprintable, sadly, but highly amusing to those of us in the know.

There are the starts of stories that never got finished not because the idea wasn’t sound but because I wasn’t the right me then to write them. I will be someday. Some of these have already been gutted for the good flesh, but I still like to keep the old carcasses around.

Old blogs, too. They may be gone, but they’re not forgotten. Except for the one I killed entirely, I have the best bits from all of them saved.

There’s the half a book a friend and I wrote to keep ourselves entertained during interminable enforced ‘revision periods’ at school. When we were supposed to be revising for our GCSEs, we were collaborating on a fantasy of proportions that threatened to be epic if we ever finished. We called it Bill. It featured a warlock by the name of Moshollondo, which name will make complete sense to anyone who went to the same school we did who juggles it around a bit to find its origin, and a devil who, now that I think about it, bore a striking resemblance to Lister’s Confidence in the Confidence and Paranoia episode of Red Dwarf. I couldn’t possibly hit the delete button on Bill, even though he’s over two decades old and never likely to be finished.

Some things were never meant to be. Some things served their purpose and don’t need to linger. Some things will find their purpose one day.

And some things were simply made to stick around.

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On Writing: Last night, I dreamt a woman named September smiled a tremulous smile…

Last night, I dreamt that a woman named September smiled a tremulous smile and then got eaten by a shark.

Are you someone who remembers your dreams? The ones you have at night, while your unconscious mind is in charge, not the other sort. I remember only some of them – I guess they’re the ones that are most likely to wake me up for one reason or another – but they leave the general impression that my unconscious mind is rather energetic.

And I realised today just how far they tie in with my writing.

The dreams I can remember in the mornings are the type of writing I’m most likely to produce. They almost all involve gore, sex, or running. I’ve not written fiction for several months, but there’s a certain style, as there is with every writer. The most recent writings are erotica, but I entered  a short story contest a while back with a piece of straight fiction that had a running theme and got some pleasingly promising feedback.

All through my childhood and teens, though, I wrote horror . I remember painstakingly making a handwritten book when I was seven or eight – it had a decidedly bloody theme involving someone being chased through a forest, and would have been a comic if I could draw – I remember trying to illustrate certain scenes but being so unsatisfied with the results that I didn’t include those pages in the final product. I remember a story involving ritual sacrifice that I wrote for my GCSE English Language course getting one of the highest marks in the class  – and the comment that the teacher did not care for my subject matter (all credit to him for marking the piece according to its merit even though he really didn’t like it!).

I remember trying to write everyday things and finding that while I could conjure the scenes, I didn’t know quite what to do with them once I’d done so. They were nicely (if a little amateurishly!) drawn, but they lacked action and purpose – snapshot rather than movie.

Last night, I dreamt that a woman named September smiled a tremulous smile and then got eaten by a shark.