Monday, 6 April 2009

Living in the cupboard – Linda Strachan

No, this is not a tale about my secret life as a gnome, living on a dusty shelf of an old cupboard .. hmmm … perhaps that might be an interesting idea to explore… but that’s for another time, and that is just the problem.

You see, yesterday I opened a file in my computer I hadn’t look at for a while and discovered the beginnings of a story; some lightly sketched out characters, a sliver of plot and a couple of lines of dialogue and narrative. I felt a frisson of excitement as I read it, knowing that here was the beginning of something that I had wanted to explore - a storyline and characters that gave me that indefinable feeling that makes you want to disappear into the world of that story, and spend time with these characters, exploring the dangers and the possibilities.

I am sure I am not alone in that I have bits of stories, complete shorter children’s stories and at least three or perhaps four novels – one adult and three for children – lurking in a cupboard or on my computer. I feel them like a quiet noise or chatter in the background whenever I think about them – which in most cases is not too often.

Some of them probably don’t deserve to be read by anyone else but I find I have a strange attachment to them, and now and again, when I have a bit of spare time, I go looking and find one of them. It feels like a guilty pleasure as I re-read them, enjoying the chance to meet the characters again, like old forgotten friends. I think about how I could change this or that, knowing that I will probably not find time or energy to re-write or edit them (and no doubt with some of them it is just as well!).

Instead I will be writing something new. Time moves on and it’s not good to keep rehearsing the past. Some of it is best left as part of the learning process.

But there is one particular novel that I think of as the writing equivalent of settling down to a favourite film with a box of chocolates. It is a fantasy novel (for adults- not children), the kind that could run on to a series (I am currently a third of the way through the second book) but it will probably never be more than a guilty pleasure. Despite that, I love the characters and go back to that world to find out where they are and what they are doing - locked away in that virtual cupboard in my computer.

Even now I can hear them … perhaps I will just go and look them up…


Anne Rooney said...

It's a nice nostalgia trip to read all those abandoned attempts - but I'd hate anyone else to read them. We don't get the same chance to burn our old manuscripts in a flambouyant gesture before death - dragging them to the wastebin doesn't really cut it, does it?

Anonymous said...

This is really interesting - I have the same as you, but I feel as if it's my Moral Duty to finish them, if only because I know that I would have gone on with them if I'd only had enough time. But maybe I should let them alone.