A question for writers and scholars

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?

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5 thoughts on “A question for writers and scholars

  1. Don’t throw them away. Many years down the line you could regret it. They are part of what you were at that particular time. Anyway when you are a famous writer they will be needed for your Biography!

  2. I still have notebooks filled with story-stuff from when I was 12. I’m unable to part with any of them. I even have notebooks with notes from classes when I was a teenager. I’m a pack-rat when it comes to notebooks and I’ve used the notes I’ve kept for English classes later in life. I say keep everything in a big box under the bed or something, out of the way, and someday you might use it. Or like the others said, for your descendants. =)

  3. Don’t ask me I’m the quintissential hoarder. I have writing and note books and so much other stuff that I should sort out and get rid of, but no I just keep moving it around. Hopeless case x

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