The Graveyard Folder

I was listening to the podcast ‘Writing Excuses’ the other day,  (I think it was the episode ‘What Writers Get Wrong.’ I highly recommend that you check them out.)  And one of the guest speakers brought up the topic of graveyard folders. 

The graveyard folder, where all the pages of writing that you can no longer use, go to die. 

I have one. 

And if you spend half of your time writing, the chances are that you’ll have one too. 

The terrifying fact is that when you start writing a book, you end up throwing away a lot of the first draft.   But of course you can’t just delete it!  Because that’s where the ideas are, so what do you do with it?  

You put it to the side and exclude them from your WIP.

And sometimes it’s hard to let them go.  Sometimes you really, really like a particular scene or chapter that you’ve written but you can’t find anywhere to fit the damn thing.

So it ends up in the graveyard folder, and you only revisit it when you think there’s a line or a paragraph that you might still be able to use.  You keep it so that you can highlight what went wrong and find a way to fix it in your new manuscript.

But as your second draft grows and becomes fully formed, you look at it less and less.  And hundreds and thousands of words that you painstakingly wrote and deliberated on sit forgotten.

Weeks might go by and you won’t even take a peak into it.  It’s a crying shame,  because there’s probably some really good stuff in there.  The real irony is that those disregarded words are the bones of your story!  These are the scenes that inspired the rest of your novel, without them your next draft wouldn’t exist.

It seems unfair then that these are the scenes that lay in the back of your memory drive.     

For instance, the project I’m currently working on, all began with one single page about a girl reminiscing about her short life, and knowing that she is about to die.  She stands with her bare feet in the grass, and remembers briefly all of her previous deaths.  

I loved this page of writing, I was immensely proud of it.  And it spawned the entire idea of my current WIP. 

And now it sits in my graveyard folder. 

A moment of silence please.

Okay. 

I know that I’ll never use this piece of writing, the story that it inspired is now a different beast. 

My point is that everyone who is in the business of creating has a graveyard folder, whether you’re a writer, an artist or a musician there will always be the off-cuts.  The ideas or images or sounds that just didn’t quite make it.  And while the name sounds depressing, the graveyard folder is actually just the origin stories.   Your beginnings.

It’s kind of amazing that from all the scattered, mashed up documents and thoughts you eventually end up with a finished piece of work. 

Still, it’s a shame to have them simply sit there, unread. 

Best wishes, sweet things  xx
…………

It would not be long now.

The crisp cold of winter was beginning to settle in, only to soon be washed away by the gentle heat of summer.  The night was a peaceful one with a full moon in the air and a fine layer of mist-rain blanketing the houses.

It would not be long now.

It was a shame, for she had grown accustomed to this new body, it was far preferable to some of her previous casings.  It was young – as all her bodies were – but this one was also quick and lithe.  She liked how it moved, graceful and quiet.  Of course, there were drawbacks, sixteen was a tiring age to repeat over and over again. 

On the whole, this wasn’t such a bad place to be; a quaint little town in the south of England, all red brick and brown trees, the smell of the sea carried on the back of the wind.

She placed her bare feet in the grass, enjoying the way the wet crept in between her toes.

The girl sighed. She prayed that this time would be the last time. That this year would be the year to snap the circle in two, to end lifetimes of misery.

She had lived long enough to know better. She looked up at the sky – the stars looked the same no matter where in the world she was. She hoped her next body would be as nice as this one.

It would not be long now.

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