The flutter-by effect – reflecting on my writing process

Years ago, I called one of my sisters ‘grasshopper’ in response to a question. In turn she called me ‘butterfly’ and then at some point – I’d obviously been a little scattered and not as focussed as (she thought) I could have been – I became ‘flutter-by’. I like to think it is a term of endearment rather than frustration. Sometimes it is, often … I just know that it isn’t.

The thing is, I know that there is an element (a whole table of elements probably) of truth my being called ‘flutter-by’ by my nearest and dearest.

malachite butterfly
Beautifully ragged … I hope it can fly

Is there a (fun) collective term for notebooks?

I quite like collective nouns. I love that you could have a rabble or a kaleidoscope or rainbow of butterflies. I’ve lived in a town where there was more or less a plague of butterflies for the first few weeks I was there. They were certainly a rabble.

(I won’t go into the plague of cockroaches that followed a few months latter. It is the stuff of nightmares. By the by, the collective noun for roaches is intrusion. That’s just about as perfect as you can get.)

When I tidied my desk last weekend I was struck by the sheer number of notebooks that had accumulated. There were stacks. It’s the right collective noun, but it just isn’t fun.

Perhaps I could suggest a drafting of notebooks or even a scrawl of notebooks? I’m actually prepared to just go it alone and start referring to having a scrawl of notebooks. – I’m sure collective nouns are still collective nouns if there’s just the one person who uses a particular term as the collective?

Flicking through some of the scrawl, I realised that I’m certainly prepared for any paper shortage that might hit suburban Perth. I also realised I have a plenty of work that I need to review, edit and commit to settling on as being finished. To be honest, I knew this already. Having the work in and out of my hands just made it real.

The work I need to complete ranges from poems and short stories to a couple of articles and reviews that I meant to finish months ago. I have – in short – been as blithe as my ‘flutter-by’ moniker would suggest. In fact, the  fifth sense of the OED (online) entry on blithe cuts a shade deep. (I suppose that’s the risk you run when you decide to do a quick check of the appropriateness of a word before you commit to it. I was more on the money than I first thought.)

New deadlines come in all the time …

In the end, I had to corral the notebooks into boxes. My plan is to work through each box systematically to review and sort the contents. My hope is that by ‘dealing with’ grouped units of books – one book at a time – I will be more effective than trying to sort the whole lot at once. It will also ensure I don’t fritter too much time away at the expense of work that I know I need to be doing now.

The danger – of course – is that it will now be the boxes that multiply exponentially.

Escaping the pinboard

In the end, what I know I need – as an inveterate flutter-by – is, I hesitate to say, pin myself down. But that seems a shade too violent, and not a lot of fun. So, I’m hoping that my approach to my writing/editing to-do list will help.

In no particular order ... but that red card looks urgent
In no particular order … but that red card looks urgent

Image of butterfly from mcamcamca


2 thoughts on “The flutter-by effect – reflecting on my writing process

  1. I love the use of ‘scrawl’ as a collection of notebooks. Certainly suits the look of mine! I’m just thinking of all the new uses of words as collective nouns. Just a quick glance at my house reveals a ‘ruffle’ of unmade beds and a ‘litter’ of dirty dishes.

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