My hard drive is kind of a treasure chest. I have so many half-developed ideas and stillborn stories (and such a bad memory for them) that every time I poke around in there I find something unexpected, surprising, and fun. That most of this has seen no commercial light of day is a natural function of a long and productive writing life, and a realistic consequence of the good ol’ wheat-to-chaff ratio. Young writers, I think, cling to the fantasy that every word they write is gold – sellable gold – and that none of it will go to waste. Young friends, I tell you from my heart, most of it goes to waste (see above: wheat-to-chaff ratio). That’s not a good thing and it’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing that is. Writing is messy and writing is inefficient. That’s why writing is rewriting, and why every level of development is merely the platform upon which we stand to reach the next level.
I never had the expectation that I would exploit every word I wrote, except in the sense that every word I write – wheat and chaff alike – helps me raise my game. But when you have a hard drive as hoary as mine, some of it is bound to find a second life some time, as for example the list you will find below of words and phrases that define certain conditions of the writing life. [Read more…]