I’ve been fiddling with one large body of words for a long time.  Hacking back, plopping on, lopping off, squeezing in and scratching out.  Occasionally even writing from fresh.  They recently amassed a decent collective number and loose cohesion which I didn’t altogether hate.  While I’m confident that it’s not that good, for all its silly, disjointed, fragmented, clunky and unconvincing meanderings, I don’t think it’s totally without merit either.

Without decimating it completely, I wanted to make alterations and notes that you can only do by editing holistically on paper.  These, I told myself, make you feel like you’re making bold linear progress; you’re not going round and round in scraggy unstructured circles like you do on screen.

This afternoon I took a walk up the high street to my local printers, a small hive of warm burring and whizzing boxy white machines, white paper, white folders, white boxes and walls; that faint punky scent of ink lingering in the air.  Two men, one older heading for retirement, one young middle age.  I handed the latter my little blue USB key and felt bare and vulnerable, like I’d just given away my child. 

How often do they see this?  Pretenders, wannabes, dreamers, or even imminent successes?  Standing over the right shoulder of the younger man, I steered the cursor through my folders to the relevant file, then double clicked.  Seeing the page there on screen there in front of a real person for the first time made me feel more naked. 

Don’t-look-at-it, don’t-look-at-it, don’t-look-at-it.  I almost wanted to whine atonally like a disturbed child.  But didn’t. 

He professionally took my instructions, made a few clicks, closed the windows and gave me back the USB key.

It cost more to print than I would pay for any book.  Which again made me wonder why I was doing this.  Just for fun?  Because I really do have way too much time on my hands?  I forked out a note to the older man, then shuffled towards the door to wait.  Nobody tried to make any sort of small talk throughout our transaction, it was all quite male.

The act of printing itself took little under five minutes and seemed both incidental and significant: the micro-realisation of something which had been worked on for so long.  A labour of sorts, following a prolonged period of electronic gestation, (although if a human foetus were subjected to a gestation like that, it’d probably be born some sort of freakish mutant).  Equally, a big printer noisily spitting lots of words onto lots of sheets of paper. 

I looked alternately at nothing on my phone and nothing out of the window for a couple of minutes.  Then the older chap gently alerted me, proferring a white box in my direction.

Pushing the door closed behind me, the shopkeepers may have laughed.  Another one!  Did you see any of the words?  Just the title; that was enough.  It was even worse than that one last week, the mug.

Will I manage to read it all without wanting to burn it?


One Response to proof

  1. Pingback: endings « Swashbuckled

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