Sunday, 18 October 2009

Throw nothing away.

I have kept notebooks most of my life and have a cupboard full of them. Reading back through a couple of notebooks recently I found two poems which I had forgotten about and I'm working on them with a fresh eye and inspiration.

In the last three years my notebooks have been full of notes, thoughts, character studies, landscape descriptions, relating to my cycle of three novels set on Hayling Island.

Here is an extract from one of my notebooks. It is written on the beach on Hayling Island during a visit to work on my novels and most of the material in this extract has found its way into the finished texts.

On the small narrow beach I always think of as Mum's beach, a long finger reaching out eastwards across the Solent and ending in the yacht club. Winter, but warm in a strong blue sunlight. I clamber down the grassy dune and suddenly I am here again and completely alone. No-one comes here in winter. The dog walkers stay on the other side, the sailors drive on the rough road to the club.

Here the sand is pure, soft and white beneath the low cliff, hard packed and fringed with green along the tidal line. I love tide in or tide out. At tide out the beach flattens out and my footprints sink satisfylingly deep. Brent geese from Canada, in winter migration, bob on the mirrored ripples. I collect driftwood, shells and pebbles.

At the head of Sandy Point the sand stretches out beyond the yacht club, beyond the boats tethered on the beach. Here the sand is white and gold, deep soft and luxurious, hardly ever used. Bathers never come here in summer. The sea holds hidden dangers, secret whirlpools to suck you down. This is a forgotten hideaway, a beach I used to come to with Mum when she was alive and we walked the dogs and later I ran with my kids.
Further west before the tourist beaches, covered with pebbles now to prevent the Island washing into the sea, there is the Lifeboat Station. Generations of men have launched from here into the waters that can rise twenty feet at the neap tide. On weekend afternoons you can wander in and volunteers sell RNLI souvenirs to raise money. I always buy something, usually a notebook and a pen......

Keep all your notes, scraps of paper with interesting words, sentences, paragraphs, all your notebooks and your drafts. Read back through them sometimes and discover the hidden nuggets for new inspiration.


  1. great advice - wish I'd thought about it years ago

    I'm not a hoarder by nature so when I'm done with something, it's gone

    so now many of my words are languishing and forgotten on a landfill of recycled paper

    c u soon

    still guess it's never too late to start over

  2. Thanks for that advice. Had been thinking of chucking a stack of notebooks away, but now will build an extra bookshelf instead.

  3. That's lovely, Miriam. I really get a sense of your memories of that beach. I've just discovered a passage I'd written but have forgotten and have just used it in my novel so, yes, keep everything!

  4. That's really great Sue, makes the posting really worthwhile.

  5. Vivid memories of holidays taken at my Auntie Mabel's bungalow in the Isle of Wight came flooding back.I was 13. You could hear the sea from the bedroom, I loved to snuggle down at night and dream of faraway adventures.....


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