When my friends brought my remaining stuff from France earlier this year, we were both amused and surprised with the amount of little things I kept over the years: gig tickets, postcards, figurines, pictures, old magazines… There was six years of my life I couldn’t throw away. I had to make a choice though, because the past was taking too much space in my new flat. So I had to let go.
Same thing happens with what I write. When I was a teenager, I used to throw all my drafts away, because “it wasn’t good enough”, because I was embarrassed (“what if someone finds it and read it?” – the good old pre-computer life fear)… And then I realised drafts and unfinished stories were invaluable material for future tales.
So now I keep everything.
My laptop is full of first chapters and ideas. My noteboks are filled with plans and paragraphs and pretty words I wow to write someday. I still have my blue notebook, the one I used to write my first novel with. I like to read these unfinished drafts and see if I can carry on or use some ideas for new stories. Sometimes there are some I have forgotten about, and I am happy to continue their journey . I still have the”not good enough” syndrome, though, but instead of throwing away, I chose to see these stories as part of my journey as a writer.
I have never been a disciplined writer, and that’s my biggest weakness. But these little gems remind me I am creative, and that I still have stories to tell. So I keep them with me.
How about you, fellow writers? Do you keep your unfinished stories or do you let them burn?