I have written before about why I started write but I have never really thought about my big bang moment. At the age of 16 I heavily got into Marc Bolan and I loved the lyrics and the way he used words, subsequently I got into a whole range of artists, Kinks, Beatles then John Lennon and so on, all strong lyricists. It is that that really inspired me, not just to write things down but also to express myself. They all either wrote lyrics that expressed their feelings or a social conscience or just demonstrated great wordplay. Wordplay is the really underrated concept in poetry and I was fascinated by phrasing and how certain words and sentences could sit together and spark something in your imagination.
But that big bang moment… Well over the weekend I started going through more writing pads. The operation to archive is not just a process of typing things up. I am rescuing older pads and trying to repair them or keep them together. At times I am also trying to work out dates, I do like to date and I have normally dated my work but not always.
Over the weekend I discovered I had a small part of a college writing pad which I knew must be from 1993, 1994 or 1995, but the bits I had written down in it were undated. Luckily I did media studies at collage and I had written down a few news stories we had obviously been asked to write about in a class. Myself and my wife managed to work out (with some deduction) that the pad was from December 1993. It was actually a story around arms to Iraq and the subsequent inquiry that gave the clue. It is probably the only time I have been grateful to a Tory government who were heavily involved with the scandal.
I also have what I suspect is my oldest pad which I am currently writing up. That is December 1992 through to February 1993
This has to be my big bang moment but I still do not know why I decided to start writing things down. Perhaps there is no why, perhaps it is just a case of listening to a lot of music, reading a lot of things and doing it for myself. I would love to go back to December 1992 and say to myself, why are you doing this, do you know what ‘habit’ you are unleashing.
I was 17 years old at this time. 17 years old… If 20 years old feels distant but still faintly recognisable then 17 feels completely alien. I had left school the previous year, I was a teenager and in effect, still a child. It is a version of me that sits way back in my past. How does the writing itself stack up, well, it is childlike and it is fragmented, it’s not serious in the sense that I sat down to seriously write some proper verse and poetry. But it does have elements of my writing style and there are things in there that would go on and inform my writing later on and still do. It also has that wonderful over the top element about yourself and the world that you do adopt when you are young. You are not inherently selfish perhaps, but the centre of the world can feel like you and you alone.
I also found part of a book I completed called ‘Secretland’. The 1990’s was my era of pushing my writing, I wrote a book, started another, I wrote for a local newspaper and I published three e books of poetry when e books were in their infancy. What to do with this book? The original file became corrupted and I sadly lost it. This is all I have left, I am not sure I want to revisit it but maybe it is not as bad as I remember. I will just clarify it here, I am no author, the skills to write a book are completely different, and it’s not just about writing well, it is about planning and organisation. But I have the book so maybe we will go with it and see how people respond. I will probably start with a chapter and if I get some interest, I will add more. If I don’t, then I simply won’t add any more and will pretend it never existed!
One thing I am aware as I write bits and pieces up, there will be missing bits, writing pads lost or destroyed. I have moved around a lot in my life, particularly before the age 26. It is a miracle I have what I do, but there will be some sadness when I have been through everything and there is a gap or gaps. Immediately I suspect there will be a gap between February 1993 and the rest of that year. I suspect there will be more missing pieces throughout 1994 until December, which I have a pad for and I have recently typed up
I accept though that I did not immediately go into buying the same writing pad from W.H Smiths and writing that came about almost certainly in 1995. But I know there would have been writing before that which will be lost.
In one respect my writing pads and writing are the jigsaw pieces of my life. This whole project of archiving, conserving and go through them is in some ways putting that jigsaw together. It will eventually give a complete jigsaw picture of my life but there will be pieces missing and it will be those lost writing pads
I am fortunate however to have those early pieces of writing. As embarrassing or immature as they are (and they can be), they are my growth. Not just as a writer but my growth as a person. Writing things down, whilst very insular and self-absorbed helped me with working through things, it allowed me to explore emotions and once written, I was able to reflect on myself. It was the perfect tool for me as a young person who had quite a lot of growing to do in those late teenage years. What my writing also illustrates, almost without realising is that a certain innocence exists in all of us, no matter what our childhood experiences are. I can read through my writing and see my innocence as a shoreline that is slowly eroded by life and life events. That shoreline is quickly altered and depleted as experience mounts up. You cannot retrieve it either, you cannot rebuild because once it is gone, and it has gone. If you are lucky you have pieces of your life, photos, and memories and in my case, writing, to remind you and show you how it once existed. I guess we are all a victim of personal coastal erosion (is that a poem?).
Again, as ever, thank you for the likes. I am aware my scattergun approach to adding poems is relentless and I appreciate people taking time to read pieces and comment. My work is deeply personal at times and I am sure people have read pieces and wondered what the f***k is that about, don’t worry, I am reading back on my work and thinking the same.
And any feedback is always more than welcome.