There’s nothing quite like misplacing an important document for encouraging you to clear out old paperwork. After you’ve searched through it unsuccessfully, of course.
Rejections from 2006 sat cheek by jowl with reader reports from 2007. And, by the time I’d gone through them all, the shelves weren’t the only thing groaning. Did I actually insist that my fantasy novel Covenant be called The Promise of a Rainbow? What was I thinking? And how many times did I need to be told that before I made the change. I’ll spare you – and me – the finer details on the content. Suffice it to say, the novel and I have come a long way.
Looking back has its place of course, as long as you’re learning from it. But, once you’ve got the message – unless you really are planning to paper the walls with rejections – it’s best to hit the shredder and move on.
Then there were the ‘ideas folders’. The one for As Above So Below magazine (next Issue coming soon, by the way), which contains the worst hand-drawn – is there any other way? – cartoons in Christendom. And the terrible puns that shall not speak their name.
The other folder holds all the newspaper clippings which I thought would inspire me. Well, that was the plan but the contents told a different story. Unless I intended to write about a cheap suit from Hong Kong, a package deal in Egypt and why a stately home is haunted.
Somewhere along the line, I lost my focus. There was useful information in there too but plenty of distractions.
And that’s the thing about writing. Whether in the work or about the work – if it doesn’t move things forward, it will hold them back and send you in the wrong direction. So don’t just murder your darlings if they’re getting in the way, put them in the shredder.
Naturally, I found the document where Anne (the brains of the relationship) told me it would be – nowhere near where I’d been searching for two hours. But my, how spacious the shelves are looking today.