Sunday, June 23

The outtake file

It’s Sunday afternoon and I sat down here at 3:30 to write my post—I’m the Monday Wrangler in case I haven’t reminded you of that often enough. I wrote about 220 words, made a cup of tea, and trashed all 220 of them, so now it’s 5:25 and I’m still sitting here. These four lines are what I’ve written.
          The 220 words were, regardless of my best efforts to make them less so, political. They would have alienated some readers and made some others say “you go, girl.” There wasn’t anything wrong with the writing, the opinions were my own, and, really, it was kind of cool reading…
          But not for a writers’ blog. It was preaching to the choir. So I junked the whole 220. Which I hardly ever do. When I finish a book, I have pages in a folder entitled “notes.” While there are many notes in that folder, there are also paragraph after paragraph of stuff that didn’t work this time but I just couldn’t let go of. They are, I guess, outtakes.
          I’ve used a few of them over the years. Either looked them up and used them verbatim or remembered them well enough to say “oh, yeah” and put the bones of them in another story. Sometimes, after a book is published, I open that file and end up laughing at what’s there. I’ll start to delete it, but then I don’t. Like the many first chapters of stories that didn’t take off, they’re still there. Still memories. Still “maybe somedays.”
          Except for that 220 words. Already I’m wishing them back. 

9 comments:

  1. I have an outtake file! And, like you, I've figured out ways for them to work in the current books or sewn then in to another at some point down the road. I just can't delete them, not completely.

    And now I'm curious about the post you deleted.....

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  2. Yup--I have an outtakes file, also named Notes, interestingly enough. Sometimes, when I'm searching for a word or an idea, I go in and take a look. Often, I find something useable, which makes me glad I don't trash what seems like a bad idea at the time.

    Glad you're back, Liz, I've missed you on FB and around cyber space... ;)

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  3. I have outtake files on all my books and I can't delete them. They represent an effort unrealized but they remind me to keep trying, to keep making that effort because when I type The End I have a fully realized book.

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  4. A political post? Love it! I have an outtakes file and dip into in when I can! Good post!

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  5. My out takes file is labeled "scrap pile". I haven't used them much. Just a line here and there. I won't delete them though. Have a feeling I'll regret it if i do.

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  6. I don't know anything about outtake files, but this made me laugh! Out loud! Sorry you deleted it and wish you had it back!

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  7. Thanks for stopping by, everybody. Hi, Terri!

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  8. Thanks for the post. You remind me that being a writer is not all success or the flow of perfect words. There are also false starts and things which just don't work. You also remind me that those things that don't work may just be the seed of a later idea or work...unless they are deleted. Thanks!

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  9. I save everything. Sometimes it gets used again, sometimes not. Or not yet.

    When I was in sixth grade, author Wilson Rawls (Where The Red Fern Grows) visited our school and he told about giving up and burning his trunk of stories and forever regretting it. SO I have files in the office off stuff I wrote over 20 years ago. Never wanted to make that mistake :)

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