Sometimes, buried deep in a pile of paper with other things I once deemed interesting or noteworthy, I find a sheet with my own handwriting. It usually has a crisp headline, underlined, followed by a first paragraph of what should have become a story, but which, for lack of time or energy or peace at the time, remained a skeleton. A skeleton, which, unlike most other skeletons, never had the joy of walking or swimming or flying. Because I, the creator, never finished the birthing process.
Sometimes, there are a few notes about how the action would have progressed, who could have said what, who should have died and who should have lived. Or there are notes about the intention of the story or, to be precise and honest, the intended intention of the intended story.
Sometimes, after only a few paragraphs of cursory notes, there is already the final sentence, like a pediment planned, commissioned and constructed before one has even bought the piece of land for the library to be built on.
Sometimes, these notes provide an idea about my former self, about my way of thinking at another time, in another place, under other circumstances, always younger, but often only arithmetically so.
And sometimes, I can’t make sense of what I once deemed putdownworthy, try as I might. Then I am wondering, “What the hell was I thinking back then?”, and throw what was once the short-if-at-all-lived zygote of a story into the wastebasket. The one with paper, of course, which I shall take to the recycling container in town the next time I feel like having kebab or cake.
Now, if I was a painter and found a similarly undeveloped and sketchy draft that made no more sense to me today than an accident, I would probably take it to a gallery and sell it.
I do this as well – these quarter-baked ideas scribbled down on whatever paper was handy. For a long time, I kept a little box with everything in there, convinced it would all turn into a grand book or the likes. Unfortunately, most met the same demise as your zygotes. I appreciate, though, knowing someone else is a finder of lost ideas.
It seems to me that most books are not written by those who are creative and have new ideas every day, but by those who either have only one idea or the discipline to focus on one idea and to leave all others by the wayside.
When I move to a beautiful/romantic/remote place, like an island or now to Andalusia, people often say: “I hope you will find lots of inspiration there”, and I just want to retort: “Oh no, not more inspiration, please! I don’t need more notebooks filled with ideas that never come to fruition.”
In any case, I am not sure if inspiration is location-dependent. Maybe discipline is, and for that reason, I am looking forward to the coming ice-cold winter in Calgary, where I won’t be able to go on walks all day long.
This will be worth a fortune; after your death.
Good things always come too late.