We have recently had some work done on our house which has necessitated me packing up my study and returning the room to its naked state whilst it was re-painted and new carpet laid. Then came the exciting part of rebuilding, reconfiguring, ‘re-imagining’ (ugh!! fake news, fake words…) it in a slightly changed context. In turn, this meant going through all my ‘stuff’ to make decisions about where – or indeed, if – it should have a place in the ‘new’ room.
Unpacking boxes that have been sealed for far too long – so long that you can’t recall what is actually in them! – is something of a rite of passage that most writers should go through, either literally or metaphorically. [t’s just easier to do literally!] I was amazed what I uncovered; what potential lay there. It was personal archaeology of a kind.
For example, I found thirteen (thirteen!) short stories of various lengths, written over the last ten or twenty years that have lain untouched, patiently waiting to be resurrected, dusted off, given access to the light of day. Some of them may be complete rubbish, of course, but even so, that’s something of a treasure trove. It could be half a collection… And seeing the subtle differences in style compared to how I write today; at first blush, that might be really telling.
And then there were the half-written novels. A huge chunk of a kids’ adventure story about a young boy who discovers he has a phenomenal talent for remembering things – and then gets mixed up with aliens… Maybe 30,000 or 40,00 words right there. The beginnings of a sci-fi novel called “Time Credits”, which has been surpassed by the 2011 Justin Timberlake film “In Time”. I may have got the idea first, but no prizes for coming second (or two hundred and fourth). Another sci-fi/political novel called “The Test”, with the first couple of chapters written out, all the characters defined, the plot detailed… And at least one – if not two – false starts on more commercial ‘thrillers’, born from when I had the notion about producing something commercial…
There’s whimsy of a kind too. A kind of semi-diary with all sorts of internal musings and angst. And the odd nugget like a sharp non-fictional travel piece which starts: “Never go to Talgarth. There is no bus stop. Shops boast ‘Home Killed Meat’ and combinations of ‘Carpets & Flowers’. There are two ‘open-til-late’ shops: civilisation.” [Apologies to the residents of Talgarth. This was written years ago; I’m sure it’s changed now…]
All this is, for me at least, quite exciting stuff. It offers timely confirmation about imagination, the ability to put words on paper, and – just occasionally – a whiff of quality that helps to keep me going. In thinking about resuscitation, it also adds to the long list of the things that I might do; those projects that just need to be undertaken because, one way or another, they really are important somehow.
But then that’s what a new study is for, isn’t it? To be a catalyst, an incentive, the incendiary that starts the next creative explosion.