In the two years since I acquired him, my big antique Library Bureau-Makers filing cabinet has been game for pretty much anything I’ve stuffed into his four rumbling drawers. Lately, though, not as game as usual.
Filey, you see, is stuffed — packed front-to-back with papers of somewhat varying necessity.
Those research materials relating to the project I’m currently revising for Dial? Necessary.
My folders full of frequently amusing outtakes from Shark Vs. Train? Necessary.
Original drafts and early critiques of manuscripts written the better part of a decade ago but never sold? And the rejection letters for those manuscripts? Hand me that recycling bin.
I’m enjoying encountering some of those old manuscripts, and I’m hanging on to the most-polished drafts of even my lamest efforts — well, the lamest that I’ve found so far, anyway; we’ll see just how much I can stomach.
But I’m enjoying even more the feeling of liberation that comes from parting with all that paper, all that material, all that stuff. And I love the hopeful feeling I get from discarding for good those long-ago-set-aside ideas, the sheer optimism of believing that the words I will come up with tomorrow are better than those I came up with then, the belief that I’ll never need to desperately root through Filey for an old character or plot or detail who can save the day.
I love that what I’m hanging onto will be there not because I’m afraid I’ll need it, but because I choose to remember it.