In the mind of Max Porter, the journey is the thing

In the mind of Max Porter, the journey is the thing
Things I Learned Along the Way — Huck's Fiftieth Anniversary Special collects lessons learned and creative advice from fifty of the most inspiring people we know. Each day we'll be sharing a new excerpt from the magazine. Today, Granta Books senior editor Max Cooper explains why you should "never tear a page out of your sketchbook..."

#18 – Max Porter

 “An anxious person can (and will) drive themselves mad with this: What am I to do with all these things? With this best friend of mine who shot me with his bow and arrow, with this brother of mine who is ambient drone music, this dickhead at work, this broken bike, this terrible inequality, this odd beauty, these glorious sons of mine, this sarcastic wife, this Eva Hesse drawing of circles, this RS Thomas poem of a giant moth, this sick Russian fairytale, this bassline, these splotches on beech trees, this queue of people who walk past my bed as I go to sleep every night; Barry MacSweeney, David Jones, Sun Ra, Hannah Höch, Hildegard Von Bingen. How does anybody on this strange earth ever get anything done?

At 12.04 I fumble for my notebook, knock over a stack of books, spill my glass of water, wake my wife and write ‘An illustrated Crow’.

At 12.15 I grab it back out, scratch out my first thought and write ‘Illustrated BY Crow’.

At 12.32 I grab it back out, scratch out my second thought and write ‘A graphic novel by Crow about Crow illustrating Crow’. 

And so on, year after year after year, with nothing to show for it, just pages and pages of notes to myself. Notes that – in the cold light of morning – mean nothing at all.  

This book happened when I least expected it. One evening I met my dad’s best friend in a pub. I hadn’t seen him for twenty-five years. He told me stories about my beloved dead dad and the stories were surprising and sad but it was wonderful to hear them. I’m going to resort to a cliché and say that a switch was flicked. I went home, bathed my babies, put them to sleep, cooked my wife a meal, opened a bottle of whisky and got out my ten-year-old laptop computer and I started writing. For rage, for release, for fun. And this is why you should never tear a page out of your sketchbook, never bin the drawings, never burn the tapes, never delete the draft emails, because it will all come pouring out when it has to…”

This is just a short excerpt from Huck’s Fiftieth Special, a collection of fifty personal stories from fifty inspiring lives. 

Grab a copy now to read all fifty stories in full. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss another issue.

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