I have a notebook, therefore I am a writer (I think, therefore I am…)
I’m finding inspiration for the writing parts of this blog difficult, the irony being that this blog is because I was finding aspects of the writing parts of actual writing difficult.
The reasons that it is difficult, or at least more difficult than writing reviews, is because anyone can have a view on something and articulate it, whether to a high or fairly low standard. Yet, when it comes to writing, I have to narrow in on concepts, themes, issues, ideas that are worth considering, worth exploring and interesting enough to sustain a post, or even a whole novel.
To make this easier, and since it was the de rigeur suggestion of choice about becoming a writing, I bought a notebook one day. It was with the same fit of pique that is often reserved for buying clothes – I suddenly awake, decide it must be done, and know that the iron must be struck when it is hot as I damn sure won’t want to buy clothes tomorrow. I marched off to WHSmith in Croydon (other stationary retailers are also available), and bought a fairly reasonable B5 size notebook, and some type of ergonomic pen that is apparently supposed to look like a swan, for just over ten pound. My purchase was so cutting edge, it couldn’t even be bothered to have the word ‘new’ spelt correctly on the front, adopting the much edgier ‘nu’ as if to prove its street credentials.
Whilst listening to the New York Review of Books podcast recently, Judd Apatow mentioned that he had become a person who mistook buying and owning books for actually reading, a common problem he had noted amongst the general populace. I fear, having bought the notebook, that I have become someone who thinks that because I have a notebook, I am a writer. By having this notebook, inspiration will flood to me and the colours of the world will all seem that much brighter and more beautiful. I would sit down, muse about the world between the pages of my notebook, joining the dots on a masterpiece that would blow the intelligent and the literary away in equal measure.
Alas, it hasn’t been so. The main problem being that I don’t actually use it.
I mean, I did, don’t get me wrong. However, the notebook does fall somewhat into the same category as my subscription to New Scientist – a seemingly valuable decision at the time in terms of garnering ideas, yet generally left to gather dust on a shelf somewhere. This was a subscription I signed up for around the same time as my trip to WHSmith, another way to gain inspiration.
In fact, the only time I really used the notebook was when looking through New Scientist. It has left me with a range of broad questions to ponder on my search for creative enlightenment:
- What if a murder was committed on Santa Cruz de Isolte (a place the size of 1 and a half football pitches, yet houses 1200 people)?
- What if there were no diseases in the world?
- What if the internet crashed?
- What if all the food ran out?
- What is synthetic biology allowed us to create extinct species?
My only real contribution in there that wasn’t ripped liberally from a copy of New Scientist was an idea that professed to consider what would happen if biological life continued to be extended and resources became all the more precious. I perceived it as a potential generational war, even beginning to research into the idea of Eugenics as a binding conceptual link.
Even in the current situation, she was able to afford herself a weak smile. They’d been trying for a child for a couple of years, her and her husband, and this was the hopeful end of a tumultuous time in their relationship. Becoming pregnant had not been easy for the couple. Each failed attempt caused more stress, dragging their relationship closer and closer to the precipice. What was supposed to be a way of cementing their relationship was actually threatening to destroy it, as month after month saw no positive signs of pregnancy. Over a year into their futile attempts, a glimmer of a breakthrough saw her finally become pregnant. However, the world can often be a cruel place, and following intense stomach cramps and internal bleeding around the fourth month, she miscarried.
For weaker couples, built on flimsier foundations, this could have been the tipping point, tearing the relationship apart. Indeed, this is what she feared, yet strangely enough, it brought them closer. Following a few months to get over the emotional turmoil, they decided to try once more and thankfully, joyfully, they conceived shortly afterwards. Finally, they would be able to bring a new life into the world and shower it with the love that had grown within them over the past nine months of waiting.
One last lingering look at the chair and one last deep breath saw the old man begin to make his move. Relying heavily on the wooden cane, he attempted to lever his legs towards the edge of the bed with some difficulty. His legs were weak and flaccid, the upper body containing the bulk of the remaining strength. Using the cane and his free hand, he was able to position himself at the edge of the bed, uncomfortably perched and less than stable. His feet reached for the floor, tentatively groping until they met the harsh coldness of the linoleum flooring. Even with the relative weakness of his legs, the old man shuddered, his whole body jerking involuntarily as both legs finally made contact.
It was his pride, rather than any lingering concerns about his body, that forced him to take a moment. The last thing he wanted was the next person to come into the room and see him lying, face down, in a puddle of his own blood and spit. The admittance to his need for a cane several years ago had already felt like a moment of weakness, though he had come to rely on it without question. There was no way he would risk giving anyone the pleasure of seeing him at his lowest.
Not one to take unnecessary risks, he waited a few moments, pressing progressively harder and harder on the floor with the tips, balls and finally, the sole of his feet.
This was about as far as I got, a paragraph or two more, a paragraph or two after. It helped me to realise that writing inspiration isn’t just going to occur by the purchase of some arbitrary pieces of stationary, or that a ‘lightbulb moment’ won’t just happen because I’ve happened to read a few guides to creative writing.
The notebook does not maketh the writer.