Sep 04

It might not sound like it, but one of the great things about moving house is unpacking. As Mrs Doo and I pass the six month mark in our new home, I have come to really enjoy the process of opening up boxes and reacquainting myself with items put away several months ago. Even better is seeing the effect it has on the house, incrementally turning it into a home and imbuing it with our character. Now that I think about it there is more than a touch of Christmas about the process – pick a box, open it up, and enjoy the contents. Minus the wrapping paper and plus a lot more boxes full of stuff like plates, spoons and cups, but you get the idea.

Towards the end of July I found an old, battered hardback writing pad that I used to write story ideas in, back when I harboured genuine ambitions of being a writer one day. Scribbled into the front of the book was the following:

This book, first written in on Wednesday 14th January 1998 at 00:41, is to be used for planning and writing my stories. Here’s to the hope that one hits the target.

Christ, but I was pretentious back then. Anyway, I flicked through my ideas (some of which, adorably, even had diagrams and illustrations) and after some time found myself at a blank page. A blank page that I decided could use – nay, demanded – an update:

**********

“I first started writing in this book on Wednesday 14th January 1998 at 00:41. 19 minutes to 1 in the morning. It’s been quite some time since then, if I am honest. It is Sunday 27th July 2008, and it is 15:11 – 11 minutes past 3 in the afternoon. That means it has been 10 years, 6 months, 1 week, 6 days, 14 hours and 30 minutes since I started writing in this book. What have I done with those precious, invaluable, lucky-to-have-them-at-all 10 years, 6 months, 1 week, 6 days 14 hours and 30 minutes?

Well, quite a bit. Not all of it good by any means, but quite a bit. I’ll be honest up front and say that I haven’t exactly set the world on fire and revolutionised the human experience but I have managed to do a few things in that time.

For one thing, I went to university, worked through and finished my degree (just an ordinary, mind you!), got a job, got a promotion, rented a room for two years, bought my own flat, got married, sold my flat, helped my wife sell her flat, was in a car crash, got a new car, bought a house, unpacked boxes, found this book, grabbed a blue pen and started to write.

Like I said there were bad things I did in those 10 years too. To be frank I’ve lied, been hurtful, been occasionally spiteful, angry and objectionable. I’ve been a bad person to people who deserve better from me. In short, and not wanting to be too blunt, I’ve been a complete bastard at times. This has not been a decade that I can be entirely proud of.

One thing I should point out is that I didn’t get anything published. When I started writing in this book I had only just turned 19. Now I am about to turn 30 and recently I have been thinking more and more about what I have accomplished with my life so far. My main ambition when I was 19 was to be a writer and get published. A plan that was somewhat hampered, I think, by a distinct lack of talent and an inability to tell an interesting story on paper. The sort of impediment that would, I am sure you will understand, put off even the most talented writer and to be honest I’m not all that talented to begin with.

That said, I am nothing if not single minded so as I fast approach my 30s I’m going to give this thing a try again – writing in my book. I’m still hopeful that one story, one day, will hit the target but nowadays it’s hope more along the lines of “That car could be a Transformer.” than it is “I could make a career out of this.” In any event, it will be fun to get back into the habit of writing in this book again. I had some fun with the stories in here, if nothing else, and if they only ever inhabit the shelves of the library in my head then that’s not a total loss. Here we go…”

**********

One thing I did learn about myself is that my handwriting hasn’t improved any in over 10 years. It still looks, as my mum was always fond of saying when I was younger, like a spider “…fell in an inkwell and crawled over a page.” I did think about scanning in the page and presenting it in the original scrawl but trust me, typed is better.