On August 1st 2016 – five years after I met my editor, four years after I signed my contract, three years after I handed in my first draft, and two years after releasing my book – I decided to finally chuck the printed research and rough work:
– fully typed interviews with over 50 people
– detailed notes and direct quotes from 60 books
– data from over 300 scientific papers
– random bits and pieces of information
And of course the rough drafts themselves: eight full drafts of 60,000 words each, written over 18 months.
(Sidenote: people often have a romantic vision of writing a book, as though it involves staring out the window with a quill and a glass of port. It’s more often than not a draining, arduous process that involves going over huge reams of information again and again in solitude. A radio host once asked, “SO, tell me about the SEXY DRUGGY research you did!” My response: “Dude, I’ve never had less sex or done less drugs in my life. I sat around in my yoga pants with books and paperwork around me by myself until 2am for a year.”)
I have everything fully saved in PDF, but the paper itself – covered in scribbles and notes, which I pored over in detail – was highly significant to me… to put it mildly.
But, as my mother wisely advised me, “You just can’t save every piece of paper forever – sometimes you have to just get rid of it. Otherwise your life becomes nothing but clutter.”
Being an expat who moved her possessions across an ocean (including essays from highschool, my adolescent diaries, and every print photo I’ve ever taken), and as somebody who loves the written word, over the years I’ve had to throw away a lot of things that meant something to me.
But this experience was emotional. To say the least.
Deepest gratitude to my friend Dan Garber for capturing the moment (and putting up with me crying a bit), to former flatmates Ellie Steel and Abigail Graham for being blessedly understanding with my weird solitary behaviour, to Duncan Thornley for lending me an entire house where I could walk in circles talking to myself and be *extra* weird for two months, Kier for dragging me out of said weird hole for human contact once a week, Gemma Wain, Martha Harron and Amy Cormier for all their guidance on the proposal and the contract in the first place…
And of course: to Michael Bhaskar for being such a brilliant, nurturing editor.
It’ll all be pulped by now.
But thank you for the memories.