This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge–blogging every day in the month of April (except Sundays!) with each letter of the alphabet.
If you’ve been writing for a long time, you know that not everything that drips from your fingertips is gold. If you’re new to this, you will discover it soon. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but occasionally, you’re going to spend a lot of time on a piece of writing–days, weeks, months, even years–only to find out it doesn’t work and that you have to shelve it.
Over my many years of writing–almost three decades now–I’ve had this happen more times than I can or want to count, especially in the beginning. I wrote entire books, even revised and rewrote them several times, only to have them end up rotting away on 3.5 disks and actual paper somewhere in my closet, never to be seen again. I have whole notebooks of stuff I wrote back in highschool that I can’t even look at now without cringing.
What happened? Did I not have passion for these works, did I not want to see them through? Not at all. I loved each and every thing I wrote, at the time I wrote it. I believed in it and tried to sculpt it with tender loving care, but at the time, I didn’t have the proper tools to do that sculpting with. This happens with most writers. We learn by trial and error, by doing, by writing. Lots and lots of stuff.
All those pieces of writing that got discarded along the path, I consider practice. They helped me grow and learn, to find my voice and style, and most importantly, they taught me the discipline of writing. I have at least eleven (terrible) books rotting in my closet. I loved each one of them, but they will never fly. Yet, if I can write eleven (terrible) books, I know I’m a writer. I know I can produce the work and put the time in. I know that sometimes, I can just do it for the love of the writing, which is the important part.
And lest you think once you get published it doesn’t happen anymore, think again–I recently wrote a 30,000 word novella that I now realize is flat and needs to be put away. It still stings, even after all these years.
How about you? Do you have works that fell by the wayside over the years? How do you feel about them? What did you learn from them?