A bad thing happened. A really bad thing. Something which would make any writer’s ink run cold. I lost a couple of chapters. A couple of chapters that I thought were good – words born of those inspired moments, when the prose pours across the page, beautiful, fluid, precious.
I wrote these chapters a long time ago – several years in fact. They are the start of a book, a book which I have found particularly troublesome. It’s the story of an apocalyptic future where women have eradicated men, believing that humanity has become a solely female trait. Trust me – it’s hard to keep that theme light.
I am dis-organised and my texts tend to be spread across multiple files depending on where and when I am working. I was sure this particular file was on my PC, which has been packed up due to my ongoing move. Normally, although it looks like a mess to everyone else, I can lay my hands on what I’m looking for within moments.
Not this time. This time the file wasn’t where I thought it would be. After a few increasingly desperate keyword searches, I submitted to a fingertip search through every file on my PC and iPad, as well as any emails that could contain a sent copy of the file.
Fifteen years of digital existence flashed before my eyes and I felt like I was dying. With each click, my eyes got wider and my stomach tighter. This unscheduled trip down memory lane included:
- Hundreds of emails thrown like Molotov cocktails between myself and my son’s father
- All the legal correspondence relating to court case with said father (and the reason for keeping copies of all those relentlessly unfriendly emails)
- Cringe-worthy poetry alongside vomit-inducing begging letters written to various ex-lovers
It was around 2008 that I became horror-struck by the repetitive nature of things. Salman Rushdie warned that “originality is dangerous”. Rest assured, there is nothing dangerous to be found on my hard drive. The emotions, the responses, the outcomes. It all had an increasingly familiar ring, the same sentiments on a loop.
“I have never felt this way before.” It’s one of those platitudes we have come to expect in relationships. The truth is more mundane, as demonstrated by My Documents – the feelings themselves are always the same: lust, love, anger, sadness, fear. The only difference is the person you’re with and what feelings you order from the menu. It seems I have a history of relationships with the same starter, main and dessert.
I need to be more à la carte. I need to order what I really feel like eating – to express what I really think and not fall into the same patterns. That is the danger of originality; it pushes us into unknown territory.
The search goes on for those lost chapters, and also, for new chapters with more original endings.