WP_20150907_20_24_18_ProThe picture here represents an emotional anchor.

It’s a collection of old handwritten fiction work that’s been fondly visited maybe once or twice per year… hiding in out-of-sight spaces because, well, that has helped the collection stay out of mind.  Not to mention the trash bin.

The collection has survived many moves, a storage room theft, a crazy roommate, an often-rocky marriage and a pending divorce.  But even more, it’s survived my ego.

The stories contained in these worn spiral notebooks span the early 1980s to the mid (and maybe late) 1990s, a prolific period for my output but a rather dismal one for throughput.  I had a great many ideas during those years, some actually novel, but failed to effectively execute.  I managed to publish a few poems and several episodes of a doomed comic strip but nothing substantial.  Certainly none of the science fiction tales I held in such high self-esteem.

How did that happen?  At 25 I was determined to be a popular, paid writer by 45…

I’m not really happy with my writing to this day, but I look back over these earnest scribblings and realize I’ve at least made a little progress.  Cringing at your old work is a good thing, right?  How could I have written this!  So much misogyny, naiveté, bluster.  So little substance.

The craziest thing about revisiting these packed notebooks is how I was able to hold an entire novel in my head in those longhand days, often cranking out chapter after chapter in a borderline stream-of-conscious fashion, easily knowing what any character should do next.  Contrast with now, where I feel better about my plots and character development but struggle sometimes to actually write.  What happened?

Part of what I’m doing lately is simple post-separation process: when two people divide, conquering the Cumulative Horde of Stuff becomes a necessary evil.  So I’ve been digging through and tossing out anything that hasn’t seemed remotely useful.  I also dusted off the notebooks to see if there were any ideas I could use for new works.  Nothing jumped out, which leaves me staring wistfully at a pile of spiral-bound paper decorated with amateurish pen-and-pencil scrawls.

Nothing useful.

So by the time you read this, I’ll have finally tossed these old emotional anchors into an empty garbage can.  It’s not easy.  I have mixed feelings about this.  In one sense it’s cathartic, freeing.  In another, I’m admitting failure to some old, raggedy friends that I thought could be resuscitated at some point.  And no matter what, I’ll still miss this attachment to a time where the future remained open and exciting.  Where failed marriages and bumpy careers still belonged to fictional characters.

In a way I’ve been unhappily wedded to these unshared tales.  This divorce has been long overdue.

I have newer stories to tell.

Moving on.

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