I’ve been absent for a little while. But I haven’t given up. Mostly, to be frank, I’ve been trapped under a mass of drafts which accumulated over the years. Which begs the question: how does one go through life writing drafts without a decent filing system?
Allow me to explain. As a teenager, I had the tendency to arrive at appointments, lunches, dinners, dates and parties too early (a habit I regretfully let go of over the years). I would normally have one of three things in my handbag to entertain me as I waited: a book (normally a leather-bound one by Tolstoi, with my great-grandfather’s initials engraved on the spine – I was that kind of snob), a pen and some paper. In the absence of paper, I would shamelessly walk to the nearest restaurant and ask for some paper napkins. In the absence of a pen, I would shamefully ask strangers if they had one to spare.
Then I would write. Write away. I thought it was a healthy habit to write as much as I could while waiting. It was mostly mindless stuff to pass the time, but I never threw anything away, thinking that if something terrible ever happened and I died really young (*knock on wood*), people would find all of these “wonderful” writings of mine, and put them together into a book that would become an instant hit and would grant me eternal, posthumous fame. Silly, I know, but you didn’t live fully if you didn’t have illusions of grandeur as a teenager. Right?
Goodness knows what became of most of my “drafts” on paper napkins, receipts and other random pieces of paper. But what came to my attention is that, in the near decade in which I’ve been living away from home, drafts start adding up. Notebooks, loose sheets of paper, and other writable items can occupy a terrible amount of space in an apartment. Especially an apartment one comes to share with others. I have now used up the space at my end of our desk, and have started using the couch behind me as an alternative storage space for drafts.
Disaster. What shall I do with all of this? I’ll be old before I finish categorizing it. But what if one of them holds a good idea worth developing? Or at least one I don’t remember and could turn out to be good?
I remember reading a story by Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel, in which he told of a universal library, in which books featured all possible letter combinations. Naturally, if such a place existed and all possible combination of letters was stored there, one would, at one point, find a book telling one’s life story. But the library was so massive and the books so numerous that one would actually spend a lifetime searching for one’s life story, and most likely die before finding it. Looking at my desk and my couch, I’m beginning to feel I know how such a library comes to exist.
I started to more seriously look through the “selected” drafts in my black folder (currently bursting at the seams) – and as it turns out, found something rather fitting for the manuscript I’m working on.
So I spent a couple of days happily incorporating it to the manuscript I had nearly abandoned for lack of time and motivation and am quite happy with the result. You see, one of my characters is terrified of flying (you wouldn’t want either one of us sitting next to you on a plane); and I remember writing this draft while in a haze of panic before boarding a plane. Hardly groundbreaking stuff, sure, but an exercise that will keep you writing and bring you back to the manuscript you considered abandoning can’t be too bad.
And now that I’m slowly getting over the fear of criticism, and 34,634 words in, I think I’m just about ready to post my draft first page here.
Hopefully this is enough suspense to hook you in?
Thank you so much for reading and enjoy your Sunday!