Now that I’ve finally acquired a decent file cabinet that matches the oak furniture in my office, I’m faced with a wake-up call. I’ve finally gather all my writing notes, ideas, sketches in one place. I’m talking about notes from decades of writing, stabs at writing, first drafts, works-in-progress, and manuscripts submitted over the years but not accepted. These I have hopes to perhaps revise and send out again, as new markets appear. The wake-up call is the sheer volume of “stuff.” A jumble of unorganized, sometimes barely legible attempts and ideas. So. Decisions have to be made. But how? How do I know what to keep? What still has legs? And how to make it accessible? There’s no point in preserving any of it if it’s not in useful, identifiable order.
Most of us have this problem in one way or another. For a lot of us, it’s photographs. For others it’s recipes. Travel mementoes. Records that chronicle the lives of our children. This list goes on and on. Or, perhaps you’ve been confronted with the boxes of papers and other items when a parent has died. They never got around to putting things in order, either. Understandably so. It’s hard work. It’s decision-making, sorting, labeling, organizing and figuring out the best way to store it all. It’s nostalgic and sometimes tear-inducing.
At least my “writing notes” project doesn’t make me cry. But sigh? Yep. And yet, as I’ve mentioned before, also glad. It’s obvious how much better a writer I am now than in the beginning. And I still find seeds of some pretty good stories in all the dross. Stories that at the time, I just didn’t know how to write. I have a better chance of succeeding now. But, while they may be good ideas or memorable details of a scene or character, they won’t do me any good unless I flesh them out, develop them and give them meaning. Hard as it will be though, like writing names and dates on the backs of all those photographs, I have faith that it will pay off in the end.