The hardest thing about writing for me? Knowing when a draft is just a passing thought or stream of consciousness that has no purpose. Everything I write feels important to me because writing has been my main mode of expression for so long. I wrote my first poem in the 1st grade. Since then, I have lived life through a steady flow of words put to paper–or in recent years, typed into a document of some sort.
As I have gotten older, I have come to understand that carrying all these unfinished thoughts and passing moods create a chain of incompleteness around my neck. What good is it to hold onto things that I will never complete? Never. Because the moment was a private one, a rant; or because the thought was just that–a single thought; or because the writing was just atrocious and the only way to fix it would be to start over; or because I knew as I wrote it, I would never let another eye see it because it would hurt someone that I love.
Deleting things is very scary. They are gone forever. And when the idea of forever looms, you assign ridiculous amounts of value to a thing that means nothing. That is jibberish. So I had to talk myself out down from the cliff of giving heft to writings that were paper thin. It hurt me. I huffed and puffed and ate my way through 3 days of food in 24 hours–all because I needed to shed some spiritual weight. I needed to drop pounds of unprocessed emotion so that I could write freely. I needed to cleanse my queue of bad writing so that I could produce quality instead of trying to fix paragraphs that would never make sense.
I have a hard time letting go. But I did it. I just deleted 65 drafts. The remaining 25 fall into specific categories:
- Recent drafts that need editing
- Drafts that are edited but not yet scheduled
- Poem drafts that take me time to develop
I feel better already, the fear of losing something fading as I note the power in the words I have left.
And life is like this at times: we hold fast to things that we should let go of because forever looms before us. Can I stand to be without this person, this job, this thing forever? The answer is always yes. You can.
So I am letting the excess go.