And, well, if not out, then at least sorted, thinned and put away to throw out some time in the future. A lot of good memories were stirred up, which is really one of the big benefits of keeping stuff. One of the best and most time consuming was reading through all the helpful comments from those who’ve critiqued my work over the years, especially my friend Lella when we got together for our two-person writing groups. All those helpful comments, and the gratification of seeing exclamation points, hearts and stars in the margins… not to mention her laugh when she reads the scene I have been waiting for her to read!
My two-drawer file cabinet was full to the brims of both drawers. One was filled with freelance articles I’ve written, The Family Tree research and notebooks and drafts, and the Matilda stories I wrote for my mom. But the other one…
All Brendan’s Cross… critiqued manuscripts, research notes, notebooks filled with notes and reminders and, as Anne Lamott would say, “shitty first drafts”. Some of them are sincerely shitty, but it is interesting that others barely changed throughout the many revisions the novel went through over the years.
I was trying to write the scene where Brendan finds his sweetheart Arabella in Wilmington, North Carolina in December of 1864. I was having trouble finding her voice and getting something on paper and then my sister took me to a La Vent du Nord concert. Almost as soon as the lights were down, images and dialogue started bombarding my brain. I always carry a notebook with me, so I started writing in the dark and managed to get words on the page. And if not always on the line, then at least between them and legible enough to read and transcribe later that night. I changed very little of the dialogue and actions of that scene and it’s among my favorites.
So, I’m keeping my notebooks and research and significant critique notes I received along the way… but everything else is going to make way for the new. Two new books underway, after all!