There were a few pieces hanging around on my hard drive that have been cannibalized endlessly and re-formed into different incarnations of the original idea, and all have not worked for one reason or another. One piece, I finished, then was unable to place for different reasons, and I decided somewhere along the way it needed fixing. Each subsequent incarnation was worse than the last. Another piece lay half-finished; while the idea was interesting, it never panned out on the page.
And there were others like this that I clung to, keeping them in my manuscript folder, hoping someday, something might come of them. I thought about them constantly over the last year, or two, subconsciously hashing and re-hashing them to try and figure out what went wrong, or how I could make them work.
The other day I came to the realization that if I was going to move forward as a writer, they would have to go.
Now, I feel I should mention that sometimes, you can re-develop broken works into something stable, solid, publication-worthy. It has been known to happen, and that’s why you hang onto what you write. This is also the reason I’m not entirely sure I’m O.K. with my decision. I have lingering fears I may find myself a year or two or three down the road and realize, in the middle of a paragraph, “gee. The next two pages of this would work wonderfully with that piece I deleted….”
But, I can’t go forward, I can’t make progress, if I’m all the time hanging onto these pieces that suck up all my brain power. Literally. Over the last year I’ve hardly been able to think of anything but fixing those broken words, and think my output, my creativity suffered a bit.
So, I highlighted, the first, then pressed ctrl and highlighted the rest. And when I was done, I pressed delete.
No going back now.
And strangely, though I am unsure about it all, I feel…. clean.