Thursday, 7 February 2013

Stories - and Mothballs?

My Thursday challenge to myself is to click ‘Random Article’ in Wikipedia, and write about whatever article comes up first, and also link the topic in some way to writing.
These random articles are definitely becoming more and more obscure. Today’s article was headed ‘Xenothictis’ and contained one sentence telling me it is a genus of moths belonging to the subfamily Tortricinae of the family Tortricidae. Bet you didn’t know that!
I must admit I was tempted to ‘cheat’ and find another article – but my challenge is to write something about the first article that comes up.
So what do I write about this moth, or indeed about any moths, apart from saying I really hate having moths in the house. If they’re not fluttering around the light, they’re zooming around my head. They also seem to have an amazing sixth sense, enabling them to hide somewhere the minute I pick up the fly-swat.
We don’t have very large moths in the UK – I think the largest only has a wingspan of about 4 inches and most are only about 2 inches. If the Atlas moth, with its wingspan of about 10 inches came anywhere near me, I’d run away screaming my head off! Fortunately for me, it lives in South East Asia.
Writing about moths has reminded me of mothballs, those pungent chemical balls my mother used to put in the suitcases where she kept our winter clothes in the summer, and vice-versa. That was in the days of natural fibres, such as wool and linen, whereas today, of course, many clothes have some synthetic fibre in them (which the moths don’t seem to like)
The term ‘mothballed’ comes from this storing of clothes, and refers to anything put into storage or whose operation is suspended. How many of us have stories (either finished, or started and never finished) we have ‘mothballed’? About 5 years ago, I decided to open the box where I kept mine (dating from about 30 years ago!), and have since rewritten three of them, all of which have been published. So it’s worth bringing your old stories out of their ‘mothballs’ and seeing if you can bring any of them to publishable standard.
I also have another story ‘mothballed’ here on my computer. I wrote about 13 chapters, decided it wasn’t working, so started rewriting it. This time I got to Chapter 15, before I began to feel the same - something, somewhere wasn't right with it. I couldn’t face the thought of starting it again, so I’ve put it into temporary storage, and started a completely new story. Maybe when I’ve finished that one, it will be time to bring the first story out of its mothballs!
Do you have stories you've mothballed? Or any that you've brought out of storage and rewritten?


  1. Wow! You really brought that full circle! :) We have tons of moths here and some of them huge and they're just so disgusting! I remember my mom used to use mothballs all the time and I think she still does because anytime the kids smell mothballs they say, "that smells like grandma's house." But my dad was military and we spent a lot of time and money in Europe and both a lot of "natural" clothing, homemade, pure wool, pure silk, etc. and so the mothballs were a necessity. I still have all of my sweaters from Germany and they all smell like mothballs. :) As far as mothballed writing? I have as many of those projects as I have sewing projects! Time to dig 'em out! - Great post. :)

  2. Thanks for visiting again, Mimi!
    Hate the thought of huge moths! But I well remember the smell of mothballs, even though Ive never used them. It's the kind of smell that reminds me of my childhood.

  3. Great post connecting to moths, Paula. Oh, that smell of moth balls. Something so nostalgic about it even though I hate that smell.

    And yes, I have many stories in mothballs in various stages of completion. Every now and then, I pull one out and try to rewrite it to fit an idea I have. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Mostly it reminds me of how far I've come when I see some of my awkward writing from years ago. YUCK! *Makes face* Hopefully I write much better now technically but I still enjoy seeing the fun ideas I had back then.

  4. You're a genius, pure and simple. To pull a word like that out, dust if off (so to speak) and make it relevant to us writers...what an imagination.

    I'll admit to having a whole virtual mega-file devoted to mothballed stories. That's how a few of my novels started, so I do not just forget about them. Every so often I open the files, let in a little air and even polish up the prose a bit before shoving them back into their virtual obscurity.

    Last year, just before nanowrimo, a chance remark by a writer on a comment thread made me pull out a skeleton and start hanging sinews on dem bones. And about a month later I had a 55K novel (thanks to the whip-meisters at nano).Even as I write, I'm honing it for submission.

    So mothballlinbg is a great way of finding a few gems later, if you dig deep enough.

  5. Writercat - you're so right about the smell of mothballs being nostalgic in a bizarre kind of way. And yes, looking back at our 'old' work does remind us of how far we have have come (hopefully!)
    Thanks so much for visiting me!

  6. LOL, Erin, thanks! My imaginaton was doing a few gymastics! I'm delighted to say that one of my mothballed stories (after a rewrite for NaNo 2011 and then a lot of editing!)is actually published today!