Have managed to do a bit of writing today that didn’t involve actual writing. Now, that sounds like the sort of half-assed excuses that people who don’t want to go through the actual tedium of third, fourth, and twelfty drafts come up with (and, indeed, it is a little bit), but I had two sudden solutions to plot problems (or more specifically, dialogue problems) on my way to work. In fact, while I was cycling to work. In the rain. It’s true that I very often come up with writing ideas while in the shower, but I guess not so often when getting caught in a shower of a more natural type.
Not only was I on my bike (not exactly a pen and paper to hand), but I was on my way to work, where I knew that I wouldn’t be able to write any of this up for eight or so hours. And I know what I’m like – what loads of writers are like – it doesn’t take too much for those really good ideas to go fluttering away on the wind. The good side of that is that you can kid yourself that the novel / short story / sketch you’ve finally hacked out would’ve been so much better if only you hadn’t gotten distracted at just the critical moment. The bad side, of course, is the rather disquieting assumption that you will now forever labour under, that whatever it is you’ve finished, could have been so much better in some alternate, never to be realised, reality. There is a third possibility, of course. Equally as likely. But since that mainly involves managing to rescue your initial ideas and discovering that they – and so, you – weren’t that good in the first place – it’s probably not a thread that we want to pick at for too long.
So, I found a post-it note (other informational reminder slips of paper with a mildly sticky strip on the back are available), and scrawled a couple of words on it, so that I would remember what the hell had occurred to me w hen I got back to the writing proper. They were ‘FRIEND’ and ‘POWER’, which, out of context, don’t seem like particularly original words – and, indeed, they’re not. It’s just the clever-clever scenes that I’ve got bubbling under that make them relevant. (Of course the scenes are clever-clever: I haven’t actually written them yet. Once I’ve got to work with my writers pen with all the elegance and subtlety of a caffeine-addicted spider monkey armed with a claw hammer, I’m sure I can reduce my works of potential genius to works of actual mediocrity. Oh, you don’t believe me? Ye of little faith).
But I’ve been burnt by this method before, and not just by single words on Post-Its. On more occasions that I care to admit, I’ve scribbled eight pages on the way home, my fevered and over-excited mind working far faster than my penmanship can keep up with, only knowing that the words burning onto the bits of A4 have genuine wit, clarity and emotion. Only to get home and discover that the scribblings are literally scribblings, and I can’t decipher what most of the words say.
Apart from ‘TURNIP’ and ‘MUSEUM’.
I mean, what the hell? Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all.