‘I had The Old Lady shot this morning. I had the empty bag that was her body dragged away. The Old Lady had lived with us for more than 10 years. She was a character. Feisty but friendly. Much loved. She fell ill last night and we called out the vet. They thought something could be done, but it turned out not.’
I wrote that two years ago.
Last week I wrote, ‘I learnt to use the ‘delete’ button to ‘murder my darlings’ many years ago. Now I need to learn to walk away from my failures. I’ve been writing the story I’m on at the moment for about two months. I think it’s time to admit that it doesn’t want to be writ. At least not right now.’
There’s a pattern. Do you see?
I live on a farm, a chunk of land with animals and crops, a place where seasons happen and life, and death, occurs. And that is where I write. Surrounded by it. Immersed in it.
There’s a correlation, isn’t there? A lot of my stories have a relationship to nature; they look at life, growth and death at a quite visceral level. Well, I think they do.
But there is a connection to the process of writing as well. An idea for a story comes to me and I try to give it life, I nurture it and I tend it and feed it. That idea can be like a newborn lamb, tottering on legs that won’t support it, looking up at you with dark, liquid eyes. It can be like a seed that falls to the ground and germinates but can’t just find the strength to put down a healthy root.
Do you see?
Stories have their own anima; their soul, their life-force. It’s my job to tend them, to feed them milk from a bottle in the warmth from the Aga or to water them with the hose on a hot, dry, cracked-earth day; but they have no inherent right to life.
Some are runts and some are weeds.
Those fall back and die. I mark their graves. I remember them. Perhaps their chance will come again. I hope so, my dead darlings, I hope so.
Love to all xx xx