The Letter K
You know when you look back at your last great idea and realize maybe it wasn’t? I admit to some absolutely horrible writing. You won’t see it, because it lives in my what was I thinking? file, not likely to see the light of day.
But I don’t throw those rejects out.
Even my very worst efforts get a second (or third) chance. I don’t delete or shred them; instead I place them somewhere quiet and unattended and wait. Sometimes I wait months.
Then I take another look. Anything salvageable in those pages? Perhaps an idea? Or a character, setting or quirk I can use elsewhere? That perfect turn of phrase, too good to shred?
Anything worth saving I transfer to an appropriate location. Please tell me I’m not the only one with folders populated with interesting vocabulary, or kernels of ideas, weird facts or half-written poems that might become something good someday. Or that perfect turn of phrase that I just know will come in handy some day.
Though most of my work lives on my laptop, the cloud, the DVD backup, the hard drive backup…. okay, I should have written about backing up files on “B” day. Just do it!
The point is, most of my files are electronic, but I do have inspiration notebooks. There’s the one I carry around all the time, just in case. And I’ve got a bullet-journal-y book dedicated wholly to writing inspiration. And recently I received a lovely creativity box in which I can save anything that motivates my muse. Just checked – the box right now contains a program from a British country fair. And I know why! I should check that box more often!
Which reminds me – jotting down ideas is great, but not so effective if you never look at them again. Once I’ve written something down, my brain no longer feels the need to remember it. So I have to remind myself to go take a peek now and then.
Back to the reject pile. If, on second go-around, the piece appears to be beyond redemption, I hold on to it just a little longer. As a low priority item, that little longer can be more than months. Then I take a look again.
Sometimes a bit of something-to-save appears. Sometimes not. If there really isn’t a single salvageable syllable, I ask the final question.
Will I be mortified if my family reads this after I’m dead an gone? If yes, out it goes. If not, then the poor little page gets saved. So far, post-mortem mortification (see how I did that?) hasn’t been an issue for me. I don’t discard my words.
Digital space is cheap and invisible, and maybe someday that piece will work.
What do you do with abandoned drafts?