The Dream Is Over

I was going to write the great Canadian novel. But I never got around to it. Life is like that sometimes.

I had a book planned. Then last week I trashed all of my notes.

The story revolved around the adventures of a newspaper reporter in a small Canadian town. It would be based on my experiences as a reporter for the Pembroke Observer from 1987-89.

For more than 30 years I have kept a couple of dozen notebooks in a box in my basement. My notes on every story I covered in that three-year period. Court stories, human interest, entertainment, sports, business and everything else that goes on in a small town. I figured there were enough tales in there to make a great book.

Last week I recycled the bunch.

Fiction isn’t my strong suit, I’ve always known that. Which may be why I never got around to even trying to write the novel. I could dream of the bestseller list, but deep down I wasn’t convinced I was good enough.

It made sense to admit that amid my attempts to de-clutter. If I’m wrong, I can always work from memory.

There was some great stuff in there. I remember covering a murder trial where the police wiretapped the defendant’s deceased husband’s tombstone. The bug worked – but the wife didn’t confess. There was lots of stuff like that.

The past few years I have done some decluttering on every visit to Canada. Until this year the notebooks have always survived.

Letting go of the past is difficult. There are so many memories. At some point though it is time to let go.

Last year I tossed the background material for a non-fiction book I had thought about. In that case I didn’t think the project was commercially viable. There comes a time when you know it just isn’t going to get written. This year it was the novel that wound up in the recycling bin.

Decluttering is hit and miss thing. I got rid of some stuff yesterday that I might have kept if I was sorting today. There is no formula when it comes to memories.

I did wind up keeping one notebook after all. When I opened it to start ripping the pages for recycling, the first words I saw were the name of a Canadian politician, now deceased, who was dominant for decades on the national scene.

It brought to mind a story I have to share here at some point in the future. I’m not sure if that story is in my notes, I haven’t looked yet.

It is theoretically possible I may still write a great novel someday. I’ll have to use my imagination though – I’ve consigned my past to the recycling box of history.

What would you have done?


One comment

  1. Phil Allan · · Reply

    Nice job. What would I have done? I am a packrat so likely would have kept the notebooks, until I got smart enough to realize I wouldn’t use them. Recognizing our strengths and limitations can be humbling, but also freeing. I love novels, but could never write one: that i know. Perhaps freeing yourself of the “facts” in the notebooks will give you and your imagination the freedom to actually write a novel.

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