Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Myth?

Picture this:
A frustrated writer stares at the blank piece of paper taunting him from his typewriter. He furiously types a few lines, slamming the return bar in his rush to finish his thoughts. Sated, he peers at the page in front of him and re-reads his work. He frowns. Then he rips the page from the machine, crumples it up, and tosses it toward an overflowing wastepaper basket.

Can you picture it? A tortured soul with writer's block. So cliche.

Isn't it???

I thought about taking a picture of an overflowing wastepaper basket to put with this blog post, but I don't have one. I've never had one. I do have a picture of empty dumpsters, and actually found that more fitting because I don't believe I have ever thrown away my work. I can't even imagine it. I can relate to writer's block, and dissatisfaction with the words I've put on paper, but I can never bring myself to throw my writing away.

Is it just me?

I will cross things out. I will scribble notes, draw arrows, and even write questions to myself in the margins of my pages. Then I file those papers, save those document files, or tuck away those notebooks. I've got filing cabinets and computer folders full of bad writing. I probably could fill a dumpster. Except that I'm a hoarder. I can't let go of those scraps of paper. I always think that there must be something in there. I must have been trying to say something, and maybe someday I'll want to come back to it and revise it/fix it/flesh it out.

I can't help but wonder if the image of the writer with discarded balls of paper all over his desk and office is just a myth. My wastepaper basket is empty. Is yours?


  1. I understand both views (tossing and not). I don't physically toss anything, but I have files that I call "banks" where I paste the bits and pieces I cut out of my stories. It seems wiser and kinder to save them there, somehow. That said, I've never actually gone back and used any of it, lol.

  2. I save all those tidbits, too. Sometimes I leaf through the paper scraps, or open old computer files and am amazed at what crap I've written. But then I dutifully re-file them. Who knows why. My trashcan remains empty.

  3. I have a pathological need to throw old stuff away. So I haven't saved a lot of my old work. Recently I've started to regret that, and I've begun to save all my drafts.

  4. I am completely opposite (and wishing I wasn't). I burn, rip, toss, sink anything that no longer has a use. I always regret it, but some monster inside me compels me to DESTROY. I have kept anything that is complete...or one day will be. Your keeping everything is fascinating!

  5. It's so interesting how different we all are. Stephanie and Sarah - I almost felt panicked when I read that you throw stuff away. Seriously. I stopped breathing for a minute.