On writing crap

I write every spare moment and moments I set aside as spare. More than a dozen notebooks filled with scraps of poetry and prose, essays and blog posts, book reviews and idle thoughts, and countless files are stored on my computer. I write considerably more than I will ever publish.

Writing is easy. Ideas are easy. This is what I tell people when they ask, which they do, sometimes.

The difficult part, the part that I consider real writing isn’t easy. It’s the revision, the rework, the complete scrapping of something one’s spent hours, weeks, months, years, a lifetime trying to make right, make it work.

The part that’s inevitable is the realization that most of what is written is utter crap, and indeed should be scrapped. Recognizing that is painful, though I’m getting better at it, at pushing things which aren’t working away. I’ve got a folder on my computer labelled “Crap” where much of my poetry lives, and more in notebooks that I won’t even bother to type. These will likely never see the light of day.

So, why bother to keep the folder? I retain a vague and likely misguided idea that one day, if I’m feeling particularly uninspired, I can open these files, go through these notebooks, and find a good line. A single good line from which more can be built and something beautiful and worthwhile will emerge. This hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t expect it to, but I want it to. Like I said, misguided.

What about you? Do you hang on to stuff that you know is largely useless? If so, why?

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