I have a folder like that in Documents – odds and ends of lifestory starts and sandpaper drafts. Bits and pieces of memory and story that beg for completion, but I haven’t had time, or lost the thread or … you know. Stories that made it past the Story Idea List stage, but not by much. Stories with beginnings, but no endings. I’ll bet you have a folder like that too.
Today, when the post I’d planned didn’t work out because the video I wanted to include doesn’t display right, I decided to peruse my junk file. To be honest, I have more than one such folder. I found an older one with files dating back about four computers. I haven’t looked in it for ages, and I found some real treasures.
Among them is a file I’d intended to use as the first chapter of a memoir about my mother. The folder date on that file is in 1999, and I have not worked on it since. Usually when I find a file that old, I instantly find at least a dozen ways to improve it based on the countless writing lessons I’ve learned in the interim. Not this time. It’s all there: description in all seven senses, emotion, reflection, dialogue, tension stretching several ways, bait on the opening hook… .
That story is the exception. I also found meaningless scribbles that I’ll probably delete. Someday. But maybe not. Maybe I’ll leave them there, and someday one of my kids will look through my hard drive and find these files and either spend several days reading through it all, or simply delete the entire file structure.
Maybe I’ll keep them all for awhile yet, because just as I look at the kitchen drawer you see in the photo above and remember where we got the chopsticks we’ll never use, or the countless trips to the bread store represented by the balls of string, and the sweater or dishrags I’'ll never crochet from it, and the fragrant bottles of wine that held all those corks and the friend we drank it with, or the good intentions of the friend who gave us the beeswax candle I’m “saving for someday”, and the market in Victoria Falls where I bought the giraffe salad servers from a destitute woman too proud to beg, I realize that drawer is full of my life. Parts of my brain and heart live in that drawer, and much larger parts live on my hard drive.
Yes, I’ll keep the story crumbs, the odds and ends, and I’ll move that chapter about Mother up onto the active list. I’ll make yet another folder and move all the odds and ends of Mother stories into it where I can easily find them. I may yet get that memoir done. But even if I don’t, I have a solid start.
Write now: look through your scrap folder and find an unfinished story that merits polish or finishing, then take it to the next step. If you don’t have such a collection yet, open your kitchen junk drawer and find a memory. Write about it.