Sunday, 15 April 2012

Burning Bridges

 In the process of spring tidying, I unearthed some notebooks full of angsty poetry and notes from my adolescence. They're embarrassing. They're cringy. But, my word, how much we fudge our memories. I think a lot of people forget what it was really like (honestly, without the gloss or protection of time's passage) to be a kid. Those who have kept similarly cringy notebooks might identify with this. Flicking through the yellowing pages and feeling the stab of things you hadn't quite remembered right; the complex friendships, obsessions with (mostly unsuitable) boys through endless reams of imitation poetry. I discovered Adrian Henri when I was in my early teens and much of the writing in these little notebooks has his stamp all over it. I am blushing just writing this...  

I decided they had to go because I would be mortified if anyone ever read them. They're intensely personal, aching with hormonal over-emphasis of probably insignificant situations and events, but when I wrote them they were important to me no matter how petty the content seems now. They're informative of who I was then, and ultimately make a piece of the picture of the adult I am now and will be in the future. This is not for public consumption. It is boring to anyone except me and perhaps those who really (really) love me.  Writers, you know that moment when you're at a creative writing workshop and someone is reading their piece of fiction and you realise with sickening certainty that what they are reading is autobiography thinly veiled as fiction? That.

Also, they're not reflective of the writer I am today. Every time I write, I try to get a tiny bit better at it. To see these early awkward attempts is painful... there is a need to let go of it. Move on.

So I burnt them on our BBQ. I know - a bit dramatic for some stupid teen scribblings. But it felt right. Besides, our shredder is broken and bin day isn't until next Tuesday. So. Funnily enough they didn't burn that well, as if they were resisting it. A bit of lighter fluid did the job (pyromaniac at heart...) but I lost my nerve when the smoke started getting a bit thick and, panicking about neighbours calling the fire brigade, I doused the lot with the hose. It could have been a romantically poignant moment, but it became a bit of a farce. That will teach me to navel gaze and to just get on with writing.