I DID THE UNTHINKABLE. I trashed a bunch of unfinished manuscripts. About a dozen. That’s not counting the stuff I shredded* before moving 18 months ago, but those were just notes and clippings. Seeds of ideas, not saplings. No words had yet been written. No outlines drawn up.
The ones I tossed were further along, containing a thesis statement, possibly a paragraph, a partial outline perhaps. They made the first cut back in Ohio before the movers came, then held on for dear life as the file cabinet was strapped onto a dolly and pushed up a ramp into the truck. That’s how they came to settle in Kentucky and lead a quiet life.
I placed a sign “Develop or Trash” over top of them, so I would remember their fates still hung in the balance.
Here they’ve sat, untouched, for over a year. That is not reason enough for me to take the step I did. Truth is, I have no passion for them. The topics they deal with are the passions of someone else, a much younger me. While I still think they have value, the thought of spending large chunks of time in their company no longer appeals to me.
Younger, better writers pursue these topics now . Whenever I stumble across an article or blog post that says something I felt strongly about at one time, I am delighted, not jealous. Delighted and set free, because I still think they are important topics and I’m happy someone is tending to them.
Meanwhile, I’ve been given other things to work on.
YESTERDAY I read Ed Cyzewski’s “Keep Showing Up and Finishing” and Shawn Smucker’s “Why You Shouldn’t Give Up.” I enjoyed them both immensely, but laughed, wondering what they’d think of what I did with my unfinished stuff.
(In my defense, if one is needed, I would like to point out my recent post on finishing things. I am an advocate for finishing, in theory, if not in practice.)
Alas, gardens must be weeded to make room for the good stuff to grow and sometimes finishing means being done with a thing.
I’m finished with those writing ideas. I’ve let them go to make room for now.
I also rediscovered and kept an old file folder, into which is tucked memories of some of the older women who have impacted my life and the stuff I learned from them. That, I want to finish writing.
*Shredding – a hobby of writers convinced their rough scribblings and discarded papers will be picked from a landfill and broadcast in ways they did not intend, that it will all make headlines and they will become a household joke.