This blog is sporadic because I am. The days when I used to write, endlessly, remorselessly, as if it was what I was created for, seem to have passed. And the consequence? Shelf after shelf of notebooks half-filled with half-baked ideas.

I’m currently working through them – again, sporadically – trying to weed out the notes, drafts, ideas, fragments that might be worth preserving in some sense. The rest will go to recycling. Thinking about the maths of it, I’ve been writing since I was six and, whilst I’ve come up for air now and then, it’s been a pretty constant addiction. So I’ve probably produced not thousands, but millions of words , if I include every student note, every class design, every piece of course content, every draft novel, every poem, every play, every outline, every plan for a treasure hunt, every fantasy world, every letter, every email and, of course, very blog post.

Just as an example, I’d claim to have drafted (drafted, that is) at least ten novels: Spiders in the Bath, Snake, Coloquintida,  Bone Dreams, Mordred’s Tooth, Only Night, Exspelling the Dragon, Touch, Drift, How to Kill Francesca Twice. These are those that come to mind. There are probably others. If each of those is around 70,000 words, that’s 700,000 to start with. Add something around – what shall I say? – 1200 poems at maybe 50 words a poem and 20 or so stories at around 1500 words. Add a PhD dissertation, which I wrote twice, at about 80-90,000 words each time. That brings us close to the first million without any trouble. And they’re just the obvious tip of the iceberg. What about all my academic papers and books (I think there’s about 100 of the former and 10 of the latter)?

What I’m sitting here wondering is: what is all this worth? Is it all merely the outpouring of ego? Or is there something worthwhile within this heap of dogeared scribble? If you scan the CV, it looks like a life of success. But if you consider what has happened to those words and, more importantly, what has happened because of those words, that document seems to fade away.

My plan, with the time that remains to me, is to use my retirement to prune this mound of half-finished projects down to the few pieces which might have value. That is: publish all the poems which seem to work, finish any (or all?) the novels which seem to have something going for them. I think there are at least three which might please a few (not very discerning?) readers, if I can find the energy to bring them to the place they need to be.

Whether this is merely that same ego finding a way to gratify itself sideways, as it were, or whether there are things I might still be able to put out in the world that are, considered a little dispassionately, worth the world browsing, I’m not in a position to judge, of course.

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