ˈfly-leaf, n.

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, indeed, 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 their beautifully bowing spines.

In fact, I actually take writing in the flyleaves to be a supreme act of love – and of inspiration.

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 the lightning bolt that has just struck you. It is a sign of reckless creative abandon: the spirit of the kind of all-at-once excitement and possibility that I am hoping to summon and to capture with this blog.

Written on the Flyleaves took on more meaning for me as I entered my fourth year of university study, moving from my beloved York and my English Literature undergrad degree to study as a postgrad at the University of Oxford. It was intended as an antidote to my continued critical work: too often over my academic career had I second-guessed myself and hesitated at the crucial moment to put pen to paper, choosing instead to abandon my writing like a shameful secret. Now, as I leave adademia behind – at least for the time being – I do feel somewhat rehabilitated, more able to embrace my ideas, my creativity, my writing: 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.


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