For no good reason, or perhaps the best reason of all, I’ve spent a listless hour pondering my way through a folder on my desktop that predates the hard drive. The folders called scrap-ends. It’s an apt description used as a name. One which occurred to me when I made the folder initially several hard drives ago. It’s called scrap-ends folder because it’s where I deposit my scrap, in much the same way a blacksmith of old would dump the scrap ends of metal he has worked on in a pile at the bottom of his workshop, for when he needs a foot of half inch iron rod… Or, a wargamer puts all the bits from plastic sprues he has not used to build his space marines, for the day he needs a spare shoulder pad, bolt gun or orc head to mount as a trophy on a new model…
The old empire built things to last, even if lasting mean’t clinging on by its fingernails to the edge of the roof.
In the case of the folder on my desktop, however, ‘Scrap-ends’ is the file I dump all the odd little bits of writing I have worked on but never actually finished, a collection of ideas, rambling descriptive pieces, choppy narratives and (more than a few) opening pages of books that I will never write. Or at least have not written yet…
Those that were once us are baying, lost souls which in ages past ran with the great pack, now but broken shadows. They are baying for my blood, hunting me, leading their masters along the paths of my scent. They are straining at the leashes marks of their slavery.
To put it another way, ‘Scarp-ends’ is the digital equivalent of my note books. I, like most writers I have spoken to over the years, have a lot of note books scattered around with a few words scribbled down in indecipherable scrawls. Some of these date back to my teenage years, those best-forgotten times of utter confusion and wistful earnestness. Others are still fresh paged and awaiting the mutterings of muses that will inspire me to scrawl something down in them. (often when read back later I need to decode my scrawl first to figure out what the hell I wrote down…). But I work mostly on the keyboard these days, with word as a rule, though I occasionally have a wander to strange pastures like scriggler… As such, I occasionally type away when that muse inspiration has crept up behind me with a lead-pipe, while my heads still ringing from the blow. Sometimes just for one night, or a couple of hours or ten odd minutes grabbed before I have to rush somewhere while the idea was fresh…
He removed his bowler hat and brushed the ever present dust off the crown. Not that it made any great difference, dry motes of dust were attracted by his clothing in the most polished environment, and the office of de’Manfess and Mr Spleen, Practical Lawyers to the Court.’ were anything but. If there had been air in his lungs he would have sighed, instead it was more of a whistle as the air sucked in through the holes in his chest.
Strange idea’s, bizarre plots, grotesque and beautiful characters, funny little diatribes and whole elaborate worlds, in concept at least, have been created and then expired in this way. Like microcosmic universes, born in vibrant explosions, only to boil away into nothingness after mere moments. Generally for a very good reason. What reason you ask?
Small prey, unworthy the effort, I move away from the things of man. Feeling the joy of my new form.
Well, because I am too busy writing something else at the time. Or the idea fades in my mind. But mostly the former. If I stopped writing Cider Lane when another, possibly equally good or even better idea occurred to me, I would have never finished Cider Lane. Passing Place, a novel that started out as one of my scrap ends, if not several of them, took five years to write because I was so busy writing scraps. Though that includes a year of writing Cider lane which also started out life as a scrap-end I was playing with while I was struggling with Passing Place. Unlike most scraps, it did not burn bright then fade away from my mind, and I found myself staying with it.
The watchers in the shadows of the courtyard mostly agreed afterwards that it had not been malice on the kings part. He was, they were all sure just punching the air in his rage. It was a pure accident that the heralds head happened to be in the way.
Currently, I have three novels in the works, ‘Something Red’ the sequel to ‘Passing Place’, ‘A Spider In The Eye’ a Hannibal Smyth steampunk/Flashman comic novel, and ‘Maybe’s Daughter’ a more possibly more serious steampunk tale. Yet I still bash out the occasional piece of scrap. It’s a fun way to get your narrative juices flowing sometimes. And of course, all of the above started out as fodder for the scrap folder. It is a constant well of inspiration in some ways. In others, it is a graveyard for lost ideas and the novels I will never have time to write… But graveyards have head stones, and all those odd little quotes scattered through this post (in case you’re wondering) come from those headstones.
The incisor long lost in a school yard fight over a girl, whose name I hardly remember, sprouts anew.
Every writer needs a notebook, and in this digital age, every writer needs a ‘Scrap-ends’ folder. Or maybe it’s just me… But I can’t help wonder some times, when a strange mood takes me, if deManfess and Mr. Spleen practical lawyers to the Fea court will ever get to search for the human child who stole what ever it was the King wanted to keep safe. Indeed what is de’Manfess? Mr.Spleen is a zombie of some kind, but his partner, no idea apart from ill-tempered. And what, when it comes down to it, is a ‘practical’ lawyer? I no doubt had answers to these questions once, for a fleeting few hours, perhaps at some point, I will pick up the scrap and start writing and then maybe I will find out. The same is true of the wolf’s tale, the strange tale of the shy tower, the woman (possiably she was a woman, I really don’t remember) in the woods, or the other scrap ends I read through earlier.
Hopefully, I will get to find out someday, and as this post is a bit of a scrap-end itself I shall leave you with this odd little scrap thought from the scrap-end folder for which I have no context at all…
I am seldom short of words but never sure what to say, while dreaming of the perfect sentence…
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