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The Impossible Book

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in Busybird | 0 comments

Someone once asked me what I would do if I knew I would not fail. I responded, without a shade of hesitation, that I would write a book.

Have I? Nope. Do I want to? Most definitely. Will I? I don’t know. What if I fail?

For years, the book I have had my heart set on writing has existed only in my imagination. Unattainable and utterly perfect, it has been safe from any bumbling and imperfect attempts to reproduce it in a tangible form. Because, of course, it cannot be reproduced. It is perfect, unformed, untainted by my inexperienced hand.

They say you only know how to write your book after you have written it. I cannot begin if I do not know how, because I would ruin it. My unwritten treasure, therefore, cannot be attempted.

My imaginary book is perfect. But no-one can read my perfect book-child, locked away inside my head. I cannot hand it to someone, to wow them into speechlessness as it surely would. I cannot read it and feel proud, because I would have to write it first, and I do not feel worthy.

But … perhaps I can write its lesser cousin. The book-child who will start as an inconceivably terrible first draft, never to be seen by human eyes except my own. Then, book-child may become a second, slightly less terrible draft, and then a third, a sixteenth, a forty-second, and so on. Book-child may be seen by many eyes, if I have courage enough to pass her around. She may yet be raw and vulnerable, yet without her skin, when I first hand her over. Book-child will wear the kind words of guidance, and I will allow her to grow and evolve beyond what I thought she could be. At some point, she will have to be pushed out into the world: whole, or nearly so, and most definitely as imperfect as her creator.

While she may be a shadow of the precious vision in my head, she will be real. Flawed, mistyped, worked over far too many times. And I will be a thousand times more proud of her than of the immaculate and divine image that I carry around in my head.

Am I going to write a book? Yes. Am I going to fail? Yes. A hundred times. Maybe more. And it is exactly that which will make me all the more proud in the end, when I finally get it right.

      Sam Stevens
      Editing Intern

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Rediscovering Writing

Posted by on Apr 11, 2019 in Busybird | 1 comment

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything longer than a paragraph. I thought it would feel unfamiliar, but it feels like coming home. My spontaneous hiatus from writing, reading and generally functioning is coming to a close, and I am feeling a hesitant kind of relief.

Prior to my internship at Busybird, I had been playing host to a frustrating kind of brain fog. Not the where-are-my-keys? kind of brain fog, but the can’t-finish-a-sentence kind. I was unable to recall what words should come after ‘hello’, and what the name of this thing is – the sharp one that cuts the vegetables. And what do you call this long green vegetable, the one with the nubbin on the end? And these ones that are round-ish and beige. I was a slow customer at the self-serve checkout.

When Blaise asked me to write this blog post, I was worried that I wasn’t up to task. I wasn’t certain that my newly recovered concentration and vocabulary for groceries would be sufficient. But when I’d been asked to proof a novel a few weeks ago, I was uncertain then too. I became immediately enthralled by the task of picking through it word by word. It was the first book I had managed to read in a year and a half, and I was delighted. So I hoped that this might go better than expected too.

Many things have gone better than expected since I started my internship at Busybird. After my overly-friendly brain fog intercepted my Honours year, I had found myself without a writing community. I discovered one again at the Busybird Open Mic Night I attended on my first day. I haven’t been part of such a supportive crowd … perhaps ever. I felt like anything was possible. I’ve even started eyeing off an unfinished project that I thought would never be written. I thought I would never be capable.

But I also thought I wasn’t capable of writing a blog post, and here we are.

I am more hopeful about my writing than I have been in years. I’m shaking the dust off my ideas, the ones I thought were spent and overly ambitious. I’m reassessing them, and I’m getting excited again. I guess that’s what happens when you spend time around people who have made it their life’s work to nurture books into the world: to hatch them gently, and then shove them out of the nest when they are ready. Because we don’t always believe we can fly until we’re doing it.

I penned the first draft of this article by hand, and I have awoken muscles that I had forgotten that I had. I have a happy little dent where my pen has been resting.

Welcome home, finger-dent. It’s been a while.

      Sam Stevens
      Editing Intern

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