Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A notebook of 'forgotten' ideas.

06:00:00 Posted by Lara Clayton , , , , , , , 4 comments

Like many writers I own a notebook (in fact several notebooks), and it’s between these pages that my ideas our placed, kept and subsequently forgotten about. Blank pages are filled in with thoughts, jottings and initial drafts; causing the ideas I had months ago to creep further into middle page mediocrity. Generally I don’t look back; I don’t revisit ideas unless my mind chooses to remember – which perhaps seems odd as the notebook offers the luxury of an extended memory, preserving what might otherwise slip from mind. However, my ideas are ideas for a reason: they have gaps, missing elements, question marks instead of full stops. They are titles without an ensuing first line. They are a combination of lexemes that seemed (at the time) important enough to write down, but which have since been cast with insignificance. They gather dust; their cursive form is draped with cobwebs and I’m never sure when (or even if) they’ll be picked from the lined page, dusted off and transformed into something more substantial.

Despite the notebook, I still believe memory to be an invaluable tool. It offers a type of filtration system: allowing ideas with potential to pass through the lattice structure – to be recalled, while unpromising ideas fail to be recollected. Personally, I like the ideas that bother me, that won’t leave me alone, that haunt my thoughts, that develop as much off the paper as on it. Therefore, I don’t like looking back. I don’t like looking back at ideas that haven’t been poking, prodding, pestering – refusing to be forgotten. I don’t like looking back at ideas that have allowed themselves to move from an active state to one of dormancy. However, having said this, I’ve decided to look through my recent notebook and list all the ideas that never made it into poetic form; the ideas that have been sitting on the back-burner with the gas turned off.

Provisional Titles (and their missing poems)

Bird nest (?)
Stickmen (?)
Lamb’s wool (?)
Tomato soup (?)
Most wanted (?)
The left behind (?)
Seafood garden (?)
Walking over me (?)
Pensioner’s boots (?)
Seventy one steps (?)
Allotment Etiquette (?)
Curiosity finds water (?)
Sarracenia ‘Johnny Marr’ (?)

Maybe one of these ideas will find the importance that first marked its existence. Maybe one of these ideas will start to harass my thoughts. Maybe one of these dormant ideas will become a poem – or maybe they’ll all be forgotten (again)?

Thank you for reading,



Ashley R Lister said...


If you get round to writing 'Stickmen' I'd be happy to do illustrations :-)

Maybe it's because I'm in the middle of session planning, but this looks like a perfect workshop exercise - write the poem that goes beneath this title.


Ste said...

Personally I think 'Johnny Marr' sounds intriguing. I find it interesting that you have so many titles, those are generally the last thing that I come up with. Fully agree with the notion of the self-selective aspect of the imagery that nags at you though.

Lindsay said...

That describes my way of working too, in that my subconscious seems to shove things through into my memory/conscious and it nags until it's written down. Anywhere. I used to keep notebooks and surprise myself when I open them, tatty, torn and disregarded as rubbish, and wonder where it all came from. Like Steve I come up with titles last too though. If I started with a title I'd never do it in my mind, too much pressure, I like to play, and similar to you let the ideas come together. Excellent posting as always Lara. :)

Lisa Gilbride said...

I imagine memory would be a great tool for a writer. I sometimes open old notebooks and wonder whether it was really me that wrote in them or some random nutter. It makes for good reading actually but never finished.