Drawers Full

Posted: September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have drawers full of writing that you will never see. Little pieces of work, things like poetry or prose, a couple of song lyric collections, a bunch of journal entries, maybe a short story or two, even the beginnings of a novel. All tucked away.

I’m not sure why I save this stuff because, honestly, it’s pretty painful to go back and read. Some that I deemed to be true masterpieces at the time, now are proven to be just awful, awful writing. It can make me smile, even giggle to read if I’m in a good mood, but if I’m feeling insecure, I just want to put it back in the drawer and never ever open it again.

I guess I keep it, despite all that, because it’s a part of me. My history.  And, everyone knows you can never get rid of history. Even if I were to burn those pages, I can’t touch what was on them or somehow make them into a better, more palatable story. Do they serve any purpose, then, those pages in my drawers?

As a budding writer I was taught that I must write one million words before I can be published.  The first time I heard that I thought I’d never write that many, but now that I am well on my way to that, maybe have even exceeded it, I’ve decided that all that awful, awful stuff, so self indulgent and narrow, counts toward my million.

I don’t know if the million words is a hard and fast rule, but the point is I think that it takes that long for a writer to discover their voice, to understand the process of GOOD writing, and of course to have something of value to say. But, once that mark has been reached, the good stuff comes.

The stuff a writer writes about is markedly different now. It’s helpful. It’s useful. It’s beautiful. It’s wise. It’s personal without being self-indulgent. What is so funny to me is that back when the awful first million words were being written, I had SO much to say!! And, now….sometimes the blank page haunts me as if I now have NOTHING to say, now that I’m qualified to say something!

But that’s it exactly.  It’s not really about me at all. The primary purpose of the first million words is to get me out of the way, so that the Divine can speak. Now that the vessel has been emptied, it is now ready to dispense clean water.

So, what do you think, should I keep the awful stuff, even just for posterity sake? Weigh in by leaving a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Cheryl

  1. That’s a good question…to keep or not to keep? I’m leaning towards “keep” because… why not? But maybe get rid of it is the final step to have an empty vessel.

    • Ten years ago I lost about 5 years worth of journaling due to a power surge (I now back up my computer regularly!). Honestly, I felt like I’d lost a child, really grieved that. I’m leaning towards ‘keep’ too, even if I never read any of it again…maybe sealing it in an envelope and writing on the front “my writing education”?

  2. Geoff says:

    I think you should save the old ones. Who knows when they might become a seed that sprouts in a new light?

  3. terri says:

    good stuff cheryl. i really needed to hear this today. (i really need to hear it most days.) you inspire me.

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