Drafts. What do you do with them? Do you throw them all away? I throw away all my endless printed copies in all their permutations. But I have a lot of notebooks left over from my novel and my PhD. I use A4 spiral bound notebooks. And I’m not at all selective about what I use them for. So, notebooks from 2005 and 2006, for example, have PhD proposals and hesitant beginnings interleaved with the final scenes I wrote for my novel, as well as random musings and poems and journal entries. I have notebooks dating from July 2003, when I first moved to the UK. I was flicking through some of them on the weekend, and they reveal painfully intimate details of my spiritual, emotional and intellectual development, alongside early drafts of things that sometimes made it into the finished product. But they are heavy and they take up space and I don’t think I want to lug them around forever. And really, they are not the sort of thing I want anyone else to read.
What I’ve done is separate the mainly PhD notebooks from the mainly novel notebooks. For some reason I can’t bear to part with the novel ones. There’s sort of a thrill seeing the first handwritten version of scenes that made it into the final version of the story. (Well, I say final. I really should get back to seeing if it’s publishable or not.) I think I can throw away the PhD notebooks. But it’s sort of hard. In between records of my intellectual floundering and chasing the wrong leads in those early years, are snapshots of my life in York, and the first house I shared with Michael. But my memory should be enough to go on. And I really don’t need a record of all that work, because everything good ended up in the PhD anyway… And we really need to cut down on excess stuff.
So. What should I do? Do I throw them away?