Lit Bit: Recycling

One of the best pieces of advice I have been given as a writer is to never get rid of your work. NEVER. GET. RID. OF. YOUR. WORK. I don’t care how bad you think it is, don’t do it. Don’t consign it to the flames. Don’t toss it out in frustration or delete it because you don’t like it. It’s fuel of a different sort.

A text, every text, is its own beast. You can write the same idea down on different days, and the words will come out differently each time. Each text is unique. You can’t write it the same way twice. That is why each iteration is so important. The record allows you to see foundational weaknesses, underlying strengths, rich bits of alliterative glory, sagging spots of adjectival drag. But if you get rid of it, even if you keep the idea, the words are gone forever. And the words are all that matters. There is no text, not without your words to give it flesh.

Once you have a text, it is editable. Changeable. Once you have the mold, you can make new castings and shape them any way you like. But beyond that, once you have a text, you can always come back to it to mine for more ideas.

There are a million unvoiced notions in each of your writings. And you’d throw them away? Please don’t make me cry like that. Even if your original words never see daylight, you can at least go back to them to harvest new notions as they grow. Your words started in some notion. Your words lead to more new notions. By keeping them, returning to them, you can only expand your ideas.

It’s a form of recycling. Keep your brain green. Don’t get rid of texts.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf my inner child crying for you.

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