I have a bad habit of lying things haphazardly. It’s a wonder I’m able to remember where certain things are. One day, I found an old journal stashed in my closet. I opened it and just started reading random pages. Some were journal entries, venting sessions about whatever drama was happening. One page was full of writing quotes. And some were exercises, though I forget where it came from.
About three-forths of that composition book is full of writing. The fact that I had so many entries and notes made me nostalgic. I do regret not stamping the entries with the year, but I can gather those from some of the entries.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how many notebooks and journals we have lying around. Or how many files we have saved on flash drives and laptops. And what’s in them. Clips? Flyers? Notes? Stories? I remember one notebook where I had just about all those things and then some. But then, when it came time to make more room, I saw my notebooks as obstacles to the ideal “work environment.” The same can be said for computer files or notes on smartphones. If I didn’t see them as something I could use in the immediate future, I threw them out.
I felt no need to keep old notebooks after I filled them, which rarely happened. And I wasn’t refining stories I kept on my desktop, so I deleted them. But after picking up that old notebook and browsing through it, I thought about the journals, notebooks, the computer files. All those documents that mapped my writing journey up to this point. I regret throwing them away. Maybe there was a story ideas tucked within them. As far as those stories on discs, I would need some sort of disc reader and Microsoft Word to even look at them.
If I could change one thing about my writing journey, it would be to hold tight to those books and files. And therein lies one of the wonderous things about writing. There’s no telling where the next idea will come from. A note describing a man who smells like he bathed in Old Spice. A rant about how family drives you crazy. Who knows?
The past is past, I know. But it’s not so much about living in the past. Rather, it’s about the memories and experiences that make a writer’s journey unique. And having those old journals and stories are our markers. I wish I kept all the stuff I wrote in my early writing years. It would be interesting to see how much I’ve changed with my writing.
What about you? Do you have old notebooks and/or files? Do you throw them away or delete them to make room for something new?