Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Lost Edit

I'm not prone to losing things – words perhaps, marbles certainly, but not actual 'things'. I'm far too obsessed with time wasting to be able to cope with 'looking'. Tick, tock, that clock goes, tick tock, another few seconds of valuable life spent in the futile search for a key, only to be repeated tomorrow. Nope, that's not for me. My key goes in my bag, maximum time spent on life – I quote (yes, I'm a joy to live with.) But sometimes, very occasionally, I lose something. Properly lose it – not, in the car, under a pile of papers, in a different bag, under a cushion, absent mindedly placed in the fridge instead of the cleaning cupboard, kind of losing it. No, proper losing, the, I am going mad type of losing.

The object in question? Half a ream of paper. The half is filled with scribbles and post-its and ticks and smiley faces. I have lost an edit, or more precisely, half an edit. The half with all the comments I haven't yet typed up onto the document, the half I've pored over for hours, the half which will have to be entirely re-done.

It isn't even my own writing. Although I'd like to be clear at this point, just in case the writer in question is reading this, the edit never left the house. It will appear again, of course, just as soon as I have re-scribbled the final remark which brings me back to the point when the edit first disappeared.

Meanwhile, I am cutting my losses and moving into damage limitation phase. The search has been officially curtailed at two hours and fifty minutes*. I have printed out a new hard copy but, ever the optimist, I will start from where I left off, kidding myself that the fairly-elves will flutter by, wink as they drop the offending missing extract into my lap and whisper, 'Hey, we enjoyed that,' moments before I finally admit defeat and re-commence editing the fated first half.  

*Now, when I say, two hours and fifty minutes, it isn't strictly accurate. Yes, my Saturday morning slipped between 10am and almost 1pm and I am no further on with this editing task, and a whole lot further behind. However, a few choice items did appear as I threw my study upside down and it would be a little misleading to pretend a few moments hadn't been spent marvelling in them. There's the photo – I have so few – of my half-brother and half-sister from over twenty years ago. One of them may have recently celebrated their 30th birthday, but I still think they're cute. And oh, how proud were we all of that snowman, standing almost up to my knees.


Next up were four packs of pen refills which had slipped inside a ruled notepad. I thought I'd bought a lot lately, but assumed I'd been working hard. There were the inevitable coins (although disappointingly, no notes, not even in the pockets of coats I found myself looking through which would barely hold a folded sheet of A4, let alone 250 of them) and a girl can never have too many emery boards, hand lotions and cuticle softeners, uncurled paperclips (it's a dreadful habit, along with chewing my nails when I'm really concentrating) hair bobbles, old diary pages (now shredded) new books - ahem – which I'd forgotten about (do NOT tell the hubbie or the authors) and chargers. I'd had a big cull in the summer, clearly not big enough.

And then I found this. I didn't find it exactly, everything in its place, of course, but I had forgotten it was there. There were letters from my school friends when I'd taken a 'year out' in Germany as an au-pair and they'd gone to uni while I was seriously questioning what I'd done. It's hard living with a non-English speaking family when, A-level in German notwithstanding, you're barely able to say your name let alone ask for theirs. Suffice it to say, the disconcerting beginning had been all but forgotten but thank you Helen and Rachel for cheering me up in the early days.

I did a couple of seasons of tour guiding 'in Europe' in my early twenties. (I wrote about life as a tour guide with no sense of direction, here) and some of the American holiday makers sent me beautiful, long and lyrical thank you letters after their trips. They were a short story in themselves, and remain mementos of a by-gone age I've long since discarded. I'm glad I kept them. Although incredibly touched by their efforts, I'm sure I didn't appreciate back then how precious they would grow to be over time.

There were even some letters to myself. I wrote a diary from the age of 13 which was wonderfully cathartic. I wrote it until, aged 23, I had a Forrest Gump moment, deciding that my diary and I had been through a decade of loves and loss together but suddenly, I didn’t want to write it anymore. And I never did. But sometimes, very occasionally, I'd write a letter to myself instead. They were how I found some calm in a few iconic moments in my early adult years.

I was flicking through some of these letters when I found a scribbled note on Mr Men headed paper which looked like a letter but was merely a few rushed bullet points. They were based on an exasperating experience I had getting back from Birmingham train station one day, and the people I'd met along the way. Those notes were all I had of an idea for a novel.

Until today.

I have since written over a thousand words and am seriously considering bringing the current manuscript I'm working on to an abrupt halt and working on this instead. My instinct is telling me to do this and my instinct told me to stop what I was writing once before and write Glass Houses in its place…

I shall leave it there for now but let's just say, far from a lost morning searching for my lost edit, my Saturday is turning out to be very fruitful indeed.

Although, forgive me, if I have just one more look in the 'edit in progress drawer.'

*Update* I scribbled this blog post down a few weeks ago. The edit is now done and submitted. The Lost Edit has still not returned. Meanwhile, there is a fault on my phone line and, unrelated apparently, we lost Wi-Fi for three days and four nights and all that precious time saved in not searching for missing keys was lost in a whiff of 'one-more-go-trouble-shooting'. Forget fairies, we have Gremlins. Or perhaps, ghosts. Maybe my 1890s house is creaking in protest against our technological world. I don't blame it. But that's another story.

What is another story, is that the Birmingham inspired novel has become all-consuming and I now have 15,000 words of the first draft under my belt. I cannot tell you how happy I am that the Gremlins stole my work that fateful Saturday. 

13 comments:

  1. Oh my God Jackie that is brilliant news! How exciting can't wait to read this Birmingham Story/Novel! And we all feel your pain of loosing things! I lost my driving licence for 2 days when i lived abroad just at the point of needing to hire a car! it was perfectly placed exctly underneath a sun tan lotion box (bottle in side box) whereby not a spec of licence could be seen! I reckon i looked in that cupboard in excess of 50 times ....each time more frantically!!!!! Found it in the end!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Oh my, the driving licence? That's even worse! Isn't it weird how we can look and look in the same place and all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, it decides to reveal itself to us?! Thanks for your enthusiasm for the new novel, I'll keep you posted :)

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  2. Jackie, I lose far more than I care to admit to. I'm very much like our mutual relative. one of the bad ha it's ice picked up from him :(

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    1. habits I've picked up from him**

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    2. Well, I don't think losing things is a very serious crime...?!? Thanks for reading :)

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  3. How cool to find all that long-lost stuff, and yet how weird when things remain missing - I'm sure it'll turn up in a few months/years when the next big thing is lost :-D

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    1. Ain't that the truth, Annalisa, will let you know when that happens and where it was!!

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  4. Haha brilliant Jackie, can you help me find my Ray Bans please?
    Lost circa 2001, we have only moved house once since then... I put them in a safe place! I hear your pain and also your triumph! Love you xxx

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    1. Hysterical! (But tragic :( ) You should talk to my hubbie, he is still upset about a pair of (bargain bucket but nonetheless) Ray Bans he left on top of the car, only to watch spin them fly off the top onto the bonnet before he drove right over them, bless him, was about ten years ago :D

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  5. A timely blog post as I've spent the past 4 days (on and off) searching for a bunch of padlock keys which WEREN'T PUT BACK WHERE THEY LIVE (pet hate)
    Cursing, swearing, blaming, praying to St Anthony the patron saint of "things lost"....
    Eventually turned up in the other special place we keep spare car keys... Because in a fit of paranoia about burglars hooking them through the letterbox which we don't even have (!!!) I'd put them in there......

    Great news about the new novel too...

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    1. Hazel, I am SO with you on the things not being put back where they belong. Herumph. But I'm very amused at you finding the keys in the 'other' special place - I know that one, too ;) Thanks for reading :)

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  6. I'm going to have to send this post on to my kids! Ask them how much sympathy they would get when they lost something and asked " where's my blah" and mum's response was always "wherever you left it"? Seemed a perfectly logical response to me:)
    But agreed, discovering a long forgotten photograph or a handdrawn mother's day card from your now adult children - it doesn't get better than that. Thanks for making me think about that Jax :)

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  7. It's a perfectly logical response, absolutely :D And yes, the almost forgotten artwork from their younger days - that's when it's good to be a bit of a sentimental old hoarder... Thanks for reading, have a great week!

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