Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Don't Throw It Away!

by Tristi Pinkston

The very first story I ever wrote was called "Sue the Dog." No, this wasn't a story about taking legal action against the dog ... her name was Sue. At any rate, Sue wanted to be a ballerina, and I remember drawing a picture of Sue up on stage, wearing toe shoes. I was five. You've gotta cut me some slack here.

As I grew up, I wrote some really depressing poetry (I think we all go through that stage) and then I tried my hand at fantasy (I didn't get very far). I believe I was about seventeen when I wrote a story about two brothers going off to war. It wasn't very good, and it ended up in a box somewhere. But as I cleaned out my storage some years later and came across it, I took another look at it and realized, while it certainly isn't ready for publication now, I could rework it and make it into something worth reading.

We've all written something that perhaps isn't as good as we would like it to be. I'm sure we all wish we could forget some of our earlier attempts and just focus on the here and now, the things we've written after some studying of the craft. But I encourage you to keep those early attempts for two reasons.

1. They serve to act as a journal of who you were at various different stages in your writing journey. They might not be perfect (and let's be honest, they might even stink) but they become signposts along the way and mark how far you've come.

and ...

2. They contain a thread of an idea you might use in future stories. If you invested any time in them at all, years ago, you had enough of an idea to build upon. Why not read through them again and see what you might yet create?

I don't know when I'll get around to reworking that old story-I have so many other ideas right now that are taking my attention. But keep your eyes peeled for a Tristi Pinkston novel about two brothers during World War I. It won't be much like the draft I started when I was seventeen (thank goodness) but the bare bones of the plot will be similar, and I'll be so glad I kept that old story instead of throwing it away.


Cheri Chesley said...

Whew. I thought I was just sentimental. I haven't thrown any of my work away, including the one poem I "wrote" when I was 7 that turned out to be taken from a textbook. I have a copy of the textbook now, too.

Tamika: said...

You are making me want to go dumpster diving in my old journals. I was a tragic teen with more drama than a soap opera.

It's true though, that a thread could be there.

Blessings to you...

Tristi said...

Sentiment certainly has its place, ladies.

Nichole Giles said...

Yeah, I sort of agree. Gail Carson Levine once spoke at LTUE, and she insists that everyone who writes should save everything, even scenes deleted out of manuscripts. You never know when those scenes might come in handy.