Flying Scribbler eschewed flying last week and took to the waves for a trip to Arran.
In years to come, memories of this holiday will, like all memories, fade away. Traces will remain of the walks, the cheese, the whisky; even the hare which sat for a second outside our rental cottage, before leaping away into the long grass. But one memory will linger, persisting in my mind far loner than any other.
I adore pebbles.
I would always prefer to spend time on a pebble beach than on sand.
Pebbles have so much to offer: they are things of beauty; they are tactile; they can be skimmed on the surface of a sunset-drenched sea; and they can be balanced, one-by-one, to create centre-of-gravity-defying, teetering towers. Sedimentary upon metamorphic upon igneous constructions, growing from the beach, playing chicken with the evening breeze.
The attraction for me is in creating something so temporary out of something as permanent as the rock of the earth. These towers can’t last: even those built away from the reach of the highest tides won’t survive a storm, or the flap of an oyster catcher’s wing. Whilst those built as the waves lap at their very bases will be re-consigned to their horizontal plane in mere moments.
I wonder if by writing, I am constructing something as temporary as the pebble towers, or as permanent as the pebbles themselves?
The paper my words are printed on will, in time, degrade and decay to dust. If I become published, even the copies of my book held in the permanent collections where all books are destined to be stored, even these will disappear given enough time. The memory of the words I write can only ever be as permanent as the memory of the last person to have read them.
Stories have a finite life. It may be a long life in the case of Homer’s Odyssey, the Norse myths or the Bible. But even these will fade from memory in the millenia to come.
And although those pebbles rolling and frolicking in the surf on Arran, will themselves be reduced by friction and attrition to tiny particles, they will endure far longer than words. They will endure until Earth’s final moment.
So in writing my stories I am creating my own, temporary, pebble towers.
The trick is to build them on solid, even ground, away from the elements, to give them the best chance of standing tall for as long as possible.
As I write, word upon word, line upon line, page upon page, I’ll keep in mind those towers on a beach in Arran, and build the best stories I can.