Friday, 21 May 2010


By Richard Jay Parker

Was having a sort out recently and found some of my old manuscripts on CD, floppy (remember those?) and paper (remember that?). I didn’t feel tempted to read them – 21st Century time doesn’t seem to allow for this sort of indulgence. It would probably have been be good for the tightness of my butt though as my ‘buttockometer’ would have been on clench factor 11 while I read them.

It’s easy to be dismissive of earlier work particularly when umpteen rejections seem to devalue it. But something fired you up about writing that work in the first place and although it may have been part of your learning curve I think it’s worth continuing to respect it and archive it properly.

All those earlier attempts will hopefully move every writer nearer to the work they’ll be happier with and although it’s not likely that many of us will be asked to pluck them out of storage (because a publisher is suddenly crazy about everything we’ve ever written) there’s a lot to be said for having access to your creative history.

We live in an increasingly throwaway society – books, movies, music. The material that does – rightly or wrongly - make it through the rigorous filters to the public doesn’t seem to have the same shelf life it did before. Does anyone really have time to analyse footnotes, extras, interviews etc or are they already anticipating the next thing?

But like a family tree, you may one day want to trace what led you to who you are as a writer so it’s worth reformatting, backing up and storing in a cool, dry place.

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  1. I've got two boxes filled with notes on scraps of paper, scene drawings, and various versions of my story in the basement.

    I didn't know if my book would ever succeed (and thus far it has not), but I wanted to leave behind some kind of tangible proof that I "really" was a writer.

    Silly, huh?

  2. I belong to the rare species who tend to gather notes and drafts. I find it quite interesting to have a look at them after a long time. I also have a kind of paper archive at my office at work. And my colleagues appreciate it. I think it is getting difficult with other media like paper.

  3. Hi S R R Colvin, Thanks for dropping in. Yeah, I think all writers want to leave something palpably creative in their wake.

    Hi ediFanoB - have several boxes of manuscripts in my loft - it's amazing how much space all those thoughts take up.