The notes that we write

Norwich Castle Museum
Glowing in the dying rays of a winter sun

This is Norwich Castle Museum, sitting on its mound just as it has since Norman times. Today, it looks down over Waterstones bookshop and Boots the Chemist; I dare say there was an apothecary nearby, even in the days when the castle was newly-built to house soldiers and minor aristocrats rather than paintings and stuffed Ibis.

A few years ago, I went to a creative writing session there called Writing The Curious. This was linked to an exhibition at the time based on the theme of the Curiosity Cabinet and it was a particularly enjoyable day.

Today, I have been looking back through the notebook I was using at the time of the workshop and I am struck by the abstract quality of creative writing ‘notes’, the threads that run through, and the randomness of disjointed ideas. For example, I have written a list:-

  1. The terrible night.
  2. The spaceship.
  3. John Dee’s mirror.
  4. Customer services.

I know the story that the first two items belong to, but I cannot now remember how John Dee’s mirror was going to connect into that piece. Nor, most importantly, how customer services was going to figure in there.

Another page records my thoughts about a group of items included in the exhibition:-

“A tiny glass forest of blue-star palms, 4″ x 3″, no larger.
A jelly of glass.
A glass sea-creature; Sputnik on Earth.
I like the stuff that is clever and pretty. Clever but not pretty is just a bit odd.
Some things only have a reason so long as they are being used.”

Some notes display my quirky sense of humour, for example my idea for:-

“Old-Time Music-Hall type song: “Where’s Me Kerfuffle Machine?”. Sung by a dreadful lothario with Brylcreem hair and orange pan-stick.”

I have a horrible feeling that I was probably waltzing round my flat singing this song at the time!

Then again, I quite like the sound of the following idea:-

“In the garden of an old manor-style house. Dawn. An orchestra playing snatches of classical music under an awning, warming up in a desultory fashion for a performance later. The sun/light starting to peek through. Then a sudden summer deluge and a rush to bring a miscellany of chairs under the canvas to keep dry.”

It sounds like the preparations for a splendid wedding at the home of a racing-horse trainer in deepest Newmarket.

How about this brief, stand-alone sentence as stark condemnation of a person:-

“He takes the shine off everything.”

The best place to finish for today is an item written only a quarter of the way through the notebook, entitled Epilogue:-

“After everything, on a distant planet in the first milky light of a sparkling new day, a newborn infant opens her eyes and gazes out, blank, awaiting adventures that cannot be written, only lived.”


I hope you have stuck with me through this post – I think it is quite self-indulgent, but this is the season of self-indulgence.


 

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Pamela Boxall

A highly imaginative approach to literature (and to life in general) can lead to imprecision.

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