As a new writer, I’m coming to realize that I won’t use everything I write. This is something that my professors, mentors, and friends have always told me. I believed it halfheartedly–kept it in the back of my mind.
They chanted Kill Your Darlings and told me to create an extra’s file. This paragraph doesn’t work, but save it. Maybe you can use it in another story.
While in the process of finishing my first novel, I’ve been doing just that. Saving stories, characters, and scenes that just aren’t working. Today, I stare at my screen, unsure of how to start a new chapter. I try various settings and movements. Nothing is working. Control. Select all. Delete.
I decide to try handwriting a scene. It’s something I do, when suffering from writer’s block. Using a pen takes a lot more effort than typing on a keyboard. It’s like there’s more at stake, so I put more thought into it. Probably not, but hey! Whatever works.
I reach for a pen, but pull out a Sharpie and that cliche light flicks on above my head and I think of a scene I’d previously written. A scene that heavily starred a Sharpie and would fit perfectly into the beginning of this chapter.
Finally! A use for my wasted words. I re-read it and all was well until I got to the last paragraph of the scene which read:
I wonder if Hadley would get it, but then I wonder if Hadley even gets me. I remember Dalton told me a story last year…
What! What was the story? I sit here, wracking my brain and as it turns out, I don’t have a clue. I search draft after draft looking for the last few words of this sentence. Nothing. This is the only time it was written and now it’s lost forever.
So what’s a writer to do? Delete. Start over. It didn’t fit there, anyway.