Saturday, November 17, 2012


I've spent a few days cleaning out my file cabinets, sorting through old, outdated paperwork, tossing away product handbooks for items I no longer possessed, and, in general, doing what I should have been doing routinely.  In the end I'd reduced five packed file cabinet drawers to four loosely filled ones and filled two huge bags with waste paper.  It was the detritus of fifteen years, at least.

I loaded the bags in the car, along with miscellaneous electronics - mostly chargers whose original purpose was long forgotten, and drove a few miles down the road to the county recycling yard where  large bins with prominent labels await each type of recyclable material.  The site is a marvel of efficiency, all cheerfully administered by smiling staff.  Over where the big trucks dump their non-recyclables a million and one seagulls cover the hillsides and hover over newly arrived garbage trucks with squalling anticipation.  Recycling, even through the internal processes of birds is a wonderful thing.

Lest you be wondering, none of my writing stuff followed the recycling route. Instead I carefully package each year's electronic and paper files and work papers for my archivist so that some future researcher can discover and, hopefully, enjoy them. I often fear I am so desperate that even the hope of a pathetic bit of posthumous attention seems appealing. I hesitate to apply the term "re-cycling" when most of this stuff has yet to be "-cycled."

But back to recycling,  During my writing career I've completed perhaps five hundred stories and sold only twenty percent. A lot more unfinished pieces await my renewed interest.  I've kept all of my stories in the hopes that some day I might be struck with some wonderful illumination that might raise a weak plot into something of substance, a phrase that would brighten a scene, or a concept that would resolve a difficult plot turn.  I frequently activate one of these chestnuts and play with it for a while, too often sending it back into semi-recumbancy because the idea still hasn't gelled.  The good ones (IMHO) get sent out to once more make the editorial rounds, a practice that makes me ever  hopeful.

Since a good story is never finished but only abandoned, I persevere in recycling my old material, not willing to see any effort go to waste.  I have some pieces I've been fitfully working on for ten or more years.  Others I turn to are quickly abandoned back to my midden to await another day.  On rare occasions I've managed to turn a failed manuscript into a published story.  It doesn't happen often, but enough that encourages me to keep recycling.

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