Delving into Juvenilia: Reflecting back on my scribbles and dreams…
While I’ve been conducting my Minimalist March Purge (see here: https://notmuchofayoungfarmer.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/decluttering-march-the-month-of-minimalism/) I came across my old stash of handwritten notes, compiling probably half of my Juvenilia. I do have distant dreams of all these scraps of paper being collected up one day, by a bored postgraduate in an archive somewhere or else by my biggest fan, and compiled into a nice big compendium, chronicling where my genius began.
Then when I found it all, I read through it, and realised I was definitely living in a bubble both under the misguided comprehension that I was indeed at all talented and within my own ego.
So this is what happened:
It might seem harsh to shred things that I obviously (upon close inspection) had spent a great deal of time and effort over. But it was probably something on a lower rung from juvenilia, if I’m totally honest: very much baby writing. It will have shaped the stuff I’ve written in earnest since – characters, plot lines and themes have all persevered and in some places blossomed – but there wasn’t much I can do with it. All of it is inside my head anyway.
I have learnt a bit about myself through doing this: I’ve been able to view my current writing in a different light, and revisit things that had once been so important, and which might still contribute to changing my writing for the better.
When I’m interviewing, we often talk about teaching as being a career that is constantly changing, where you are always learning new things and improving, and that is what draws most people in, and is what I thought had drawn me in, but in actual fact, terrified me. On the flipside, I have come to realise that my current writing has been stagnating: it desperately needed to change, evolve; it needed a fresh outlook, in all honesty. So while it was hard initially to feed those first few pages into my shredder, it was useful to do.
Like Nora in The Siren, one of my favourite books (guilty pleasure!) which I may one day review if it’s not a little close to the nerve, who shreds chapters because they aren’t strictly fiction; I too felt like I was shredding the parts that were a little too close to reality…
So now I can put it to a different use! I will use it to line the trenches that my beans will grow in this year. Reusing, recycling!
This has been quite a serious post. Apologies! Minimalist March is very much almost at its end, and I’ve done… what? I’ve cleared out six bags of clothes, three bags of books, listed a whole bunch of stuff on eBay, taken some bits and bobs to the charity shop, aaaand… that’s it. I’ve done a room! Bully for me.
Roll on Minimalist April!