Pulp Fiction

I shredded three of my manuscripts yesterday. 

Yes, I wilfully fed my early creations Classmates, All the Rage and Gap Year two pages at a time into our paper shredder, ultimately filling three binbags with the ribboned results. 

I’m sure the book-lovers amongst you are throwing up your hands in horror at my admission.  It isn’t as disastrous as it sounds, though.  I already have these novels in book form, since I had them bound a couple of years ago – not to mention that I of course have them saved in numerous formats on my computer and backup software. 

Besides, I don’t realistically think they will be published now – I like to think of them as my early experiments in novel-writing, before I moved on to better stuff – and anyway surely weighty paper manuscripts will soon be a thing of the past as everything seems to be done by e-mail these days. 

The main reason for my pruning is we are surely to have our two bedrooms decorated and are pruning or boxing up the contents of those rooms (we use one as a study, and the manuscripts were in the desk in there) in preparation.  Those three great wodges of paper were simply taking up too much space in what we are trying to make a more minimalist home. 

Not to mention the fact that even looking at the Gap Year manuscript made me cringe as it was covered in petty, schoolmasterly crossings-out and amendments of mythical “punctuation errors” made by the vile Romantic Novelists Association reviewer.  So I took great pleasure in feeding those annotated pages into the shredder never to return. 

I have, however, kept the vitriolic critique penned by that person.  I still can’t bear to look at it, but there may come a time in the far-off future when I can guffaw over it in a “(S)he’ll be sorry now I’m famous” sort of fashion.  I wish, perhaps – although I did experience moments of “the RNA can kiss my bum” triumph when two of my short stories were accepted by top-selling women’s magazines.

After an hour or so, I was slightly shredder-happy.  I can actually still hear that horrible grinding metallic noise inside my head. 

Anyway, what are you all doing for Valentine’s Day?  Hubby and I never eat out on this date (To be unromantically squished into a restaurant charging magically inflated prices?  No thanks!), so we always have a special meal at home.  This year I’m doing Nigel Slater’s sausage and mustard pasta, followed by brandy trifle. 

The cynic in me knows today is a manufactured celebration, designed to extract more money out of the gullible public, but at the same time I do like to make a thing of it.  The reason for this is that, even though I have been with my husband 13 years now, I still like to relish having someone to celebrate this day with. 

When I was much younger Valentine’s Day was always a sore point with me.  When you’re 14 it’s hell to be surrounded by girls whose Head bags are positively bursting with cutesy cards featuring puppies and tacky blue glitter, who then croon bitchily, “So many did you get them, Leigh?”  It was one of the innumerable reasons I hated school, and I guess that shit feeling has stayed with me.   Ah, school is a living hell when you’re not popular.

Like members of the older generation who never saw a banana until an advanced age, I never got a Valentine card until I was 21 (altogether now – “Aaahhh!!”).  That was from my now-husband.  I never got any cards at school, and when I finally did start getting boyfriends I never happened to be going out with any of them in February! 

So happy St Valentine’s Day – whatever you end up doing!


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