Spring…Er…Summer Cleaning

I have kept many notebooks and journals with “poems,” ideas for novels and short stories scribbled between their pages. It shouldn’t be surprising when I started using my laptop to write I would hoard it on my hard drive and I have. Recently, I decided it was time to go through and organize my computer. I was cleaning and organizing my laptop and I found many story and article ideas that have lead nowhere. I deleted some. For this small feet I am so proud of myself. It is hard for me to throw away anything I have written. I still find and keep tiny pieces of paper with sentences I have created falling out of other notebooks of scribes I swear I’ll need one day.

A few I finished and put on this blog. The last two post, “Go Out And Adopt a Pet” and “To Whom Ink May Concern” were two articles in my documents never being read. “Adopt a Pet” was an article I wrote as a writing sample for a job application (which I didn’t get). “Ink” was a blog article I was writing for years. I thought it should finally be finished and see the light of day. I put most away into files but now what to do with them? I keep asking myself, “Will I use these ideas and create a short story, novel, or screenplay out of them? There aren’t as many on my laptop or computer as there are in my closet.

Diaries, journals, and notebooks collecting dust with sentences I’ll never use. Do I just burn or shred everything without a glance or read and edit it all waiting for the day I may use it? I guess the best thing would be to throw them out but I must go through them first. Memories and feelings I have forgotten. I read through one of my diaries once. It was hilarious. I recalled that I was just as ridiculous (I’m not talking about rude or obnoxious) at 18 or 22 as every other 18 or 22 year old. I think I would like my novel to be like Roman á clef and use those times/feelings in a book but will I? I know these are the questions every writer asks themselves but the feeling can be overwhelming. Some of the young pieces, like the short story I wrote when I was 12, I will keep. This stage in my life reminds me of a quote from Edgar Degas which said, “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”  They are cute, funny, and a memento of when I thought all I wrote was a priceless piece ready for publication.

Cleaning is causing me to make decisions and with these little things I’ve created it feels like a big deal. However, I know no matter how much you like a piece or section sometimes it doesn’t fit and you need to edit it out. You can put it on the side and hope to use it somewhere else one day but it is very unlikely it’s ever used again.

How do you keep your writing? Do you have an expiration date before you can delete it, do you trash right away, or do you keep every thought that makes it on paper (or screen)? How do you organize these scraps of ideas?



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