Listening to an episode of the podcast,”Start With This“, I was confronted again with the concept of the disposability of art. In this particular episode (episode 8, “Art is disposable”) they were talking about the many things that they and others wrote that they eventually threw out. It was another angle on the idea of just writing for the sake of writing, about not being precious about the words being applied to the page.
I know that a lot of what I write isn’t stellar. Partly that’s what revisions and edits are for: to clean up the mess. But no matter what, I cling to every sentence I write. There are whole folders, notebooks, and scraps of paper that I’ve kept with everything ranging from phrases to whole stories. Some are OK; others are easily forgettable. Yet I keep them. Why? I have no idea.
There’s a part of me that says that it will be valuable. No, not in any idea that I will somehow be able to auction off my writings to some hungry fans to gain money. I believe that they would be valuable in finding stories, plots, characters, etc for later use. But really, that just won’t be the case.
“Throw it out” is the advice that the hosts say, noting that if there is something worthwhile in anything there, that we’ll think of it again. Maybe; maybe not. I certainly don’t think for a second that I’ll somehow recall any of it. But thinking about it deeper, I realize that I don’t want to the think about any of it. I want to move forward.
A few days ago I wrote “Blessed… and Cursed” about learning to let things be good enough. This takes that a step further in when I really don’t feel as though something is good enough, I have to be willing to essentially trash whole portions of my writing. I have to be willing to erase them and rewrite them, not hold onto the passages, trying to either rework them or just hold onto them with some false hope of revisiting them later. If the writing is junk, why am I even trying to hold onto any of it?
Confirmation that sometimes I write for shit?
Most likely the recesses of my brain are holding onto it for the latter reason, a twisted version of “hold onto it because you’ll never produce anything better.” It is yet another feature of the process. I need to let go of what isn’t going to be useful in the goal of my growing as a writer.
But you know what? Even if I delete the words I wrote, the act of writing them was what I needed. It isn’t always the finished product that is the goal, rather it is taking the steps to get there.