When Making Do Won’t Do Any More

One of the participants in my writing class described her attachment to her old billfold. She tacked, taped, and rubber-banded it together for years (she saved those wide bands that hold broccoli stalks together). After losing the billfold from the top of her vehicle, saving it from canine attacks, and various other mishaps, she finally caved.

Along with her missive about said billfold, she brought us a picture. Does this remind anyone of their manuscript, edited, edited, and re-edited almost beyond recognition?

photoYet how can we give up the characters? At least for me, it’s those heroines, heroes, and villains that call me back time after time. When months have passed since I’ve peeked at a certain file, I read the first page and wham . . I’m in the story again.

As with my friend’s billfold, its the feel of the thing that tugs at us, the familiarity. But sometimes, our patching efforts may not work for our manuscripts any longer–but we don’t give them up easily.

18 thoughts on “When Making Do Won’t Do Any More

  1. I can not tell a lie. I haven’t totally parted with it. I’m tempted to start using it again. For the moment, it’s retired or maybe just tired. The new one just isn’t the same although it is easier to find because it’s green. Why didn’t I pitch it? It’s familiar, has been on many trips with me, weathered many storms, and is comfortable to use. Wouldn’t be fair to give up on something just because it’s old and almost worn out. I don’t want to be tossed when I am at that stage in life. The inside of my billfold is in worse shape than the outside-just like we are at times.

    • Mary, what a metaphor you’ve woven here! Wish I could have everyone that visits this blog meet you and get in on your insights in our class.

      I think it’s so neat objects like this can show us truths about our lives – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Ah….. mine lurk like Marley’s ghost… clanking chains and pointing fingers…. But the truth for me is they may be a worn tool… something that helped me learn to do something, and that may be the purpose of their life…..

  3. Oh, Gail, so true. I can’t just delete things. I have to make a separate folder for “name of manuscript” deleted sections, just in case I want to add them back. I fall in love with scenes and/or characters. So far, I’ve never gone back & used any of those deleted things. Ha!

    • I’m in the same boat, Janet. WHY do we feel we must keep them? I’m not that way about “stuff”, usually…why words?
      An interesting query for folks like us!

  4. Gail, that happened to me with my first novel. But I couldn’t give it up. I believe I rewrote it 5 or 6 times. I even aged the characters by 10 years and changed my hero’s religion, but in the end, it was worth it. I might throw out an old wallet, but never, never an MS.

    • So intriguing. I have a few in my files that aren’t technically thrown out, yet they’re so unbpublishable as is that it would take more effort to refurbish them than to start over fresh. Have you comprehended why you can’t throw one out, June?

  5. I never purposefully delete old manuscripts anymore. That being said, I’ve lost some. To old floppy disks that are both corrupt and obsolete and to crashed hard drives that I didn’t back up in time,. However, in the case of a few pre-computer attempts, the embarrassment that I ever wrote that made it was easy to shred. Every now and then, though, some of those people come back to life in new stories.

    Great discussion, Gail. Oh, and I don’t change purses or wallets until there’s no other recourse, but once I change’em, they’re gone.

    • Liz, that’s interesting – parting with a material object is easier for you than w/WORDS. I can relate! And I can relate to the “embarrassment that I ever wrote that.” Honestly, my skills have grown so much in the past 6 years that I would truly not want people to see what I started out with!
      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. Nope. Don’t throw any out. I MAY never use that ms, but it can be worth millions (to me!) in perhaps a new doc where I take this character or that scene. It’s research (in a vague way! lol).

  7. GAIL!!!

    LOVE this post — TOO CUTE!!

    And, YES, I totally agree when you said, “When months have passed since I’ve peeked at a certain file, I read the first page and wham . . I’m in the story again.” Same here, which just goes to show we like our own writing, yes? NOW … we just have to find readers who are just like us … 😉

    I NEVER throw anything away that I’ve written, especially scenes deleted from ms. or books in editing. I will ALWAYS use them somewhere, sometime, so waste not, want not. In fact, my new Christmas novella, A Whisper of Hope (from the Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection) is a subplot for Charity and Mitch that my editor cut from my last O’Connor novel because her legal dept. wanted a shorter book (longer costs them more money, so they finally got tough with me. ;)). Boy, did THAT come in handy for a fast turnaround! 😉

    Hugs,
    Julie

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