A blank leaf at the beginning or end, but esp. at the beginning, of a book.
Some people think it an almost criminal kind of sacrilege to write in a book. For a lot of people, this brand of desecration is up there with dog-earing the pages, or bending the whole thing back on itself so that it lies inside out, a long white crack frowning along its spine.
Personally, I see no problem with writing in my books, or with any of the readerly misdemeanours listed above. As far as my paperbacks go, I like them to look lived-in, well-loved: to show the journey we have taken together in their puckered page-edges and bowing spines.
To write on the flyleaves of a book that inspires you is to crystallise a moment of creative overthrow: the sudden seizure of what blank space is available to you right then to document a thought. It is a sign of reckless creative abandon: the spirit of the kind of all-at-once excitement and possibility that I hoped to summon and to capture when I started this blog. It was intended as an antidote to my critical work – first at the University of York, and later at the University of Oxford. Too often over my academic career I’d second-guessed myself, hesitated at the crucial moment to put pen to paper, choosing instead to abandon my writing like a shameful secret.
Now, a couple of years on, I am much better than I was. My creative writing has been published on Writing In A Woman’s Voice, and in Notes Oxford and The Ibis Head Review, and my non-fiction and journalistic work has found a home at Narratively, Spindle Magazine, and BusinessBecause. But I’m not abandoning my original project, and I’m still working on seizing inspiration where and when I can, and documenting some of it here – whatever makes it into the moment, onto the flyleaves.
My name is Amy Hughes; welcome the marginalia of my day-to-day existence.
© All work on this blog, unless stated otherwise, is the property of Amy Hughes, and should therefore not be reproduced or copied without her express written permission and credit to the original material.
Main page header: Maria by Kees Van Dongen. Photo taken by me at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.