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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Back to Pen and Paper

Back in the good old days when I was writing fan fiction regularly, I was never without a spiral bound notebook in my bag. I had a bag just the right size to accommodate it and when that started letting in water it took some doing to find another one of the perfect size. It couldn't curl the edges or squash the bottom, you understand. I cherished my notebooks.

As time went on, things changed. I can pinpoint why. I stopped working on one particular

story in longhand in 2005/2006. I was at Lincoln and dealing with the illness of two grandparents along with studies, making stupid decisions about my personal life and generally mucking things up. I lost traction on the story and, though I continued writing a couple of thousand words on it every so often, I didn't write them longhand then copy them up. It wasn't a conscious decision to stop using the notebook, it just sort of happened.

Fast forward eight or nine years (and insert a *whoa* at that length of time).

These days, I have plenty of notebooks but they're all fancy ones. They all hold plans, characterisation notes or editing gripes. Most of them belong to one particular project, others have a few bits and pieces in them that I'm trying to make sense of. There's only one 'basic' notebook and that's the one I bought a few months ago, specifically to work on short stories.

Generally, I've neglected the short form because I figured I wasn't any good at it. But my publication in Ariadne's Thread (see here) gave me a little more confidence. Quite obviously, I'm not going to get any short stories published if I don't write and refine them. But sitting at the computer won't get it done. There's already so much to be working on up here. If I ever get a break from PhD work, all I really want to do is work on that mountain of novel drafts I've got stacked up or the script ideas that are exciting me. Short stories come at the bottom of the pile.

Which is why I made a conscious decision to start writing longhand again. This way, I've always got a notebook with a story in my bag. There's always something on-going so there's something to think about and work through while I'm doing other stuff. It's proved particularly useful on train journeys where I stare out of the window and pretend I'm working which, I think, is an improvement on looking out of the window and pretending I'm reading. The writing one is easier to pull off.

So we'll see where this leads. Maybe nowhere. But at least I'm writing daily again, even if that goes against the creed of 'year of the thesis'.

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