Smudge on my hand 5 Comments

Smudge on my hand

The impetus for this blog was a smudge on my hand (that and Jojo’s guilt-tripping abilities). The smudge originated from the letters BLOG which made me think about how amazing the human mind is. Well no, that’s another post. This one is about the impact of a few words.

Because yes, I’m sure you haven’t heard that cliché before.

What I love about writing is that a few words can often manifest into a whole world. Habitually, I have scribbled down a couple of lines on a scrap of paper and left it to stew between the folds of my wallet, wedged in my notebook or stuck in my trusty back pocket. A few weeks later, it will fall out of whatever crevice it’s snuck its way into and one or two words will be distinguishable. Tada. It’s like a magic trick. Because someone else has stripped away all the other rubbish words and left me with the important ones.

So what I’m trying to say, not very clearly, is that writing down anything is invaluable. If it’s brilliant to you at the time and then monstrous a couple of hours later, no worries. Whatever you do, just don’t throw it away. Give it a couple of weeks, maybe some years, and if lady luck likes you, it might just fall out of that scrapbook. Tada.

I remember that Diana Wynne Jones wrote Howl’s Moving Castle from the words ‘the moving castle’. A little boy said those words to her. Thank you little boy.

  • Alex

    This will probably sound stupid but I believe that sometimes little bits of stories fall through time and get to us before they’re meant to. Often I find a phrase which I fall in love with. I’ll fight with it and fight with it, try desperately to make it into something and fail. Shelve it. Months or years later, I’ll be writing a story and that phrase will just slot into place. Like that’s exactly where it always belonged. Its one of those little magic moments when writing makes you believe in all kinds of things.

  • Cathy Tran

    I think you’re take on it sounds much more writerly. I often fall in love with a line and wrestle with it as well, only to lose miserably. But my theory of shelving was more of the basic backburner one. When a long lost line slots into place I just figure that my story had subconciously built itself around that. Perhaps a mix of both?

  • Daniel Hogan

    I relate to that. You find yourself making love to a phrase one minute and then strangling it to near suffocation in another. Slap it on the proverbial shelf, walk away, leave it alone and after some time (sometimes when you least expect it) it slides into place.
    I agree with Cathy. I think it is a subconscious thing.
    Or perhaps it is like collecting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. You find a piece and it connects to another piece you found previously. You find a piece and it joins with nothing, so you hold onto it, wait, carry it around, incubate it like an egg and then walla! bam! bam! bam! it connects to something else you find.

  • Alex

    I agree with the jig saw idea. I also think its a nice image- writer’s walking around with their pockets full of jig saw pieces.

    This whole thing also raises another issue- where do we put these bits. I’m a big believer in notebooks. I always have a number going at any one time, all with their own special purpose. And I carry a little one with me every where I go. But I have a friend who writes on random bits of paper and keeps them in boxes and pockets and whatever book/s he’s reading. What do you guys do? Do you think one way is better?

  • Cathy Tran

    I tend to do both. I always try to carry my notebook around with me but sometimes it’s just out of reach and I end up with scraps of paper anyway. If there isn’t any paper it goes on my hand. No pen? Goes into my mobile as a saved text. The latter two I try to write into my notebook asap but the scraps usually just float.

    I don’t know if either technique is better really. For me, notebooks tend to go unread. As soon as I’m finished with it up it goes onto my shelf (not proverbial) and I’m done. At a panel about journals held at Signal a while back they talked about not revisiting notebooks for ages, waiting until there was growth and development so that the reading actually meant something big. Scraps however, seem more chancey. You’ll either find it again or you won’t. But when you do, and if it fits, then it really is just pure perfection hey?

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