The front room on the bottom floor of my house was once our dining room. It became later our living room, the dining room again, our tv room, a junk room, briefly my studio, and is now finally a library. My father’s had installed bookcases to cover about a third of the walls, but the floors are still covered in books brought up from the basement and collected from sales. Books of 80s self-improvement left over from my mother’s tenure here, hardcover books of various topics from mine and my father’s combined eighty years of collecting, soft cover books of and on pulp or greater things.
We need more shelves. So I must clear out my ersatz writing space to make room for more shelves and even more books.
I go through all the things I’ve written since sixteen, the folders compounding like the scene in the Alastair Sim’s version of A Christmas Carol meant to show Scrooge’s greed, one thin volume standing for the profits of several years, then one for a year, then a thicker for the next and so on until the largest book to be placed on the shelf accounts only for the first portion of fiscal term. All of my personal writing, barring that which I wrote on the computer, or lost, or wrote in separate notebooks (I was and still am occasionally compulsive about organizing paper writing space), amounts to just over an inch stack of paper, but the greatest additions have come in the most recent years.
I’ve got more organizing to do. That thick folder contains writing from my more collected period, that beginning in 2013 with my return to school. The period that saw me regularly dating each entry so that I’d not so easily misplace sentiments or sentences. That should be pulled aside for its own folder.
The completed stories stand on their own, each getting a private folder containing the core narrative and notes I or someone else has made. I throw away the useless notes, both those of praise and derision. False praise, or even true praise, is useless without qualification, just as any dismissal ceases to be with properly reasoned backing. Any unsubstantiated opinion has no place with me. All substantiated points, no matter how unpleasant, must be addressed.
Sixteen to twenty-something-ish saw the completion of one solid folder and a few hundred digital pages in the form of wish-fulfillment novelization. 2013-14 saw my first adult writing awards and publications, it saw a hundred pages of personal blather and maybe a hundred more pages of rewrites of thirty or so legitimate pages to create the finished three dozen.
2015, just begun, has already seen a dozen pages of private sprawl. I have in me a narrative. I have that sense one gets when he has a story he means to tell. I know I have to write it, just as I know it won’t be much good. I know it’ll taste like McCarthy and the Road, like an imitation of something else, but I know to get to the narratives thereafter I have to get through this spurious one first. I know every page sharpens the wit as it dulls the pencil, and that there’s no tradeoff to writing more rather than less, save that of time, and as I have decided to live forever I have all the time that is and ever might be.