Saturday, February 06, 2010

Keep It All

Let's write about writing.

I finished a horror story called "Night Vision", about a woman seeking to cure her boy of blindness, with the help of a strange "hoodoo" woman by the swamp. And now I'm sitting down to rework something called "The Lunchbag", a short story written to beat another writer over the head in a writers' workshop (hey, different things motivate and the buffoon deserved it).

I've changed much as a writer since these two stories were first written (although as a person, I think I may have regressed emotionally), and I think the changes I'm making will help sell them.  Which brings me to the point of the posting... never throw away or delete anything you've written. And for God's sake remember to regularly back things up.

When you write, whether you're just playing with paragraphs that never go anywhere, or actually trying to craft something around an outline, put it in a folder. Call it "misc" or "junk" or "works in progress". And  revisit it every so often to see if things have changed or if they can provide some new element of inspiration. Of course, if you revisit your old work and don't feel you have anything to change, then you might want to rethink your growth as a writer.


Natasha Fondren said...

*snort* I have books out there where I've had to ask my publisher if they still had a .doc copy of it, LOL.

I just threw away 50K last month, because I decided I wanted to go a whole new direction, and it felt like the document sitting on my hard drive was cluttering my imagination with the old story. So I deleted.

I don't look back unless forced.

I do think your way is better and smarter, though.

stu said...

I tend to take the opposite view. The core of a story might be ok, but if it's stalled that badly, I'm going to want to rewrite completely in any case, and often having the original around gets in the way.

Sullivan McPig said...

I can imagine there are stories that you look back at later and you don't want to change. Not because they're good or couldn't be improved, but because you've finished with them. Sometimes you have to let a story go and move on.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Natasha, sometimes writing is about organization and being a pack rat, physically and mentally. I like looking back, sometimes it gives me a perspective of where I am.

I can understand that. The original can be a distraction.

sometimes there are stories I look back at and think..."Did I write this? Geez...this is great!!!" and sometimes, I hold my nose. Perspective, perspective, perspective.

Akasha Savage. said...

I always do try to save everything I write, be it on my memory stick or by printing it out. The times I've thought something is utter rubbish, so have deleted it, only to regret it months later when I realise that actually it could have been improved or expanded on.
Keep everything I say, cos you never know....

Joe Ponepinto said...

Although I do keep copies of everything I write, and sometimes even work on those versions, I usually feel the way Stu does. If a story just doesn't work it usually have to be completely reimagined and rewritten from scratch, and the earlier version can cloud that thinking.

Avery DeBow said...

After chucking out my first novel I wrote in high school, I have reacted in a knee-jerk fashion, now keeping every version of everything I write. I never need them, never go back to the unaltered version, but they're there, lined up in neat, dated columns like comforting little blankies.

SQT said...

I agree. Sometimes I go back a read something I wrote a long time ago and realize I've evolved less than I thought. ;)

miller580 said...

I was once motivated to write something for a workshop buffoon...turned out to be really good...(in my opinion not the buffoons) so I love that others do this as well. However, I wonder now if I have ever been the inspiring buffoon.

オテモヤン said...


L.A. Mitchell said...

Now I really want to know the Lunchbag story.

Thanks for the reminder to back up. Must. Do. It.