Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Drafts, drafts...and more drafts...oh wait, there's another one...

Much of the stuff which I will finally publish, with all its flaws, as if it had been dashed off with a felt pen, will have begun eight or more years earlier, and worried and slowly chewed on and left for dead many times in the interim. -William Gass

In the last ten years, I've moved around a bit-from one coast of Canada to the other and I'm the kind of person who will sell or throw out just about everything and start over, with the exception of important personal items, which have followed me everywhere. One such item was four large, plastic, impossible to lift, storage containers containing the many drafts of my WIPs. These containers have caused many back aches (for my boyfriends-husbands-dad and brother of course, not me:)) but I could never part with these original and older versions of my manuscripts.

Why? I blame an author I read about when I first started writing. I can't remember her name, but her advice was the source behind carrying these four containers of-quite honestly-really bad writing, all over the country. She said she kept each draft because she liked to go back and see how the manuscript had progressed and grown throughout the process. I liked that concept, so I did the same. She also said that she printed each copy on a different colored paper-yellow for first draft, blue for second, etc...As a new writer, I envisioned a beautiful, organized, colored co-ordinated bookshelf in my office, proudly displaying the various stages of life of my books. So what did I do? I bought the various paper colors and never used them. When the reality of how much organization and work was required to create that beautiful vision, I quickly forgot about it, but I still kept the old versions-in the storage containers-poorly labelled in old binders and racking up chiropractic bills (for the above mentioned, not me of course).

So, now that I am finally settled in my permanent home with my husband and son-I decided that instead of storing these containers in our basement (because let's be honest, when was the last time you read draft number six of the first book you ever wrote?) I would go through and shred the drafts, keeping only the original, handwritten (unreadable) draft. I've done this and now in my office is a proud display of tattered notebooks with paper napkin and scraps of paper inserts lining my bookshelf. And that's good enough for me:).

P.S. Sorry to everyone mentioned above who suffered injuries from my inability to let go sooner:)

So, I'm curious-how many of you keep every draft of your story and where and how do you organize/store them?

xo
Jen

8 comments:

  1. Jen, I may still have some drafts of early (no good, very bad) writing. I continue to think within the moldy pages may be some tidbits of brilliant ideas that may someday be salvaged. Are you bursting my bubble, saying that ain't so???

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  2. LOL, Roz, in your case-I'm sure there's wonderful treasures to be found in there! In fact, can I come dig through your old drafts??

    xo
    Jen

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  3. Jen- I love this post! I keep every draft too- except that I store them on my laptop and back the files up on flash drives. I cannot get rid of them and you've inspired me to take another look at what I can let go of. Being a draft hoarder (that's my new title ;) I was able to take advantage once. In my YA series a few paragraphs had somehow disappeared through the revision and line edit stages and it wasn't until I did a final final read through of an unproofed printed book version that I caught it. I went back several drafts, found the paragraphs and- for the first time - was glad my hard drive looks like an episode of hoarders! Thanks for this intersesting topic :-)

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    1. Hi Karen! Thanks, yeah that is another perfect reason why I handwrite everything first. The same thing happened to me on my current wip. 5000 words just disappeared last week. I was soooo happy that i had a backup! I don't trust technology at all lol. But don't tell my husband, he's an I.T guy.

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    2. Hi Karen! Thanks, yeah that is another perfect reason why I handwrite everything first. The same thing happened to me on my current wip. 5000 words just disappeared last week. I was soooo happy that i had a backup! I don't trust technology at all lol. But don't tell my husband, he's an I.T guy.

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  4. I keep every scrap of paper related to the book I'm working on. One draft might have a scene I decided to delete, but there might be a line of good dialogue or some description I'd like to save. And I have to print out every time I edit something. Some of you 'youngsters' who grew up using computers probably don't have to do that, but I have to be able to move pages around, sometimes cut one in half and tape parts to another page. But, once a book comes to life with a cover, I throw everything related to it away. Unless there are connected books, then I know I'll need it again. I handwrite when I'm plotting because the slowed-down process works well for me at that point. Interesting to think about, Jen.

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  5. Thanks Muriel! Getting rid of everything after the book is done is wonderful. Up until recently, I had everything, even my notes on my first two published novellas lol. It is kind of freeing to get rid of it and move on to the next one.

    Xo
    Jen

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  6. Jennifer, I too still have stories that I've written since high school. Some of my drafts have been lost in moves, but I have quite a bit of them. Every once in a while, I'll get them out and read through them to see what inspired me in the first place and to realize how far I've come in the craft since then.

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