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?