Old Stuff, Old Vanya

So I’ve had a bad week, or two. Despite my grandly worded, Lets-Get-To-It! last post, I have fallen into a writing funk. Again, I’m not saying Writers’ Block, I’m saying lazy. Also, the lack of a proper desk. I don’t think working on the couch is doing it for me, now that working requires going back and forth between the printed manuscript and the computer. It’s too many things for one lap! In the next few days, I hope to develop better work habits for this part of the project. There have been other extenuating circumstances that made working difficult, but you don’t care about any of that. My point is I’m sorry for not maintaining this site better in the interim, and thanks for sticking around. I am getting back to doing all those things that I was so fired up about the last time I posted.

One thing I have been doing, in addition to getting back into running and finishing up a free-lance painting job, is cleaning my room and filing everything I’ve ever created from elementary school onward. I won’t be living at home forever, in fact I’d very much like to get out within the year, but I plan to leave my bedroom finished, organized, and well-designed when I go. This way it can be a proper guest room for my parents instead of a disaster area. The problem right now is that everything I’ve owned in my life and everything I acquired in college is trying to co-exist in a room significantly smaller than the one I had in my college apartment. I’m attempting to downsize, but… I’m a writer. Organization skills do not come naturally.

Also, I’m a writer. I’m a paper-person. I’ve been a writer and a paper-person since second grade. I’ve heard that some writers throw out all their old work, but I’ve never been able to do that. To me, all those raw ideas are so valuable. Someday I might want to write a book for third graders, and those stories I wrote in third grade about a girl finding an injured baby pegasus might provide just the starting point I need. And what about the story I started in fifth and sixth grade that was supposed to be my first novel, about the slave-girl-turned-rescuer with twin black unicorns and a glowing sword? I’d like to turn that into a cool little book for a middle-grade audience, someday when I have the time.

So that’s me, saving everything. The problem is I also saved all the binders (and Lisa Frank trapper keepers) going back to third grade, and binders and notebooks take up a lot of space. Now I’m going through and removing all those valuable stories, and tossing the binders and recycling all the rest. I’m saving so much space. It’s a process, though. You’d think I could toss a whole binder full of science notes, except I probably got bored during science class and started writing an epic story. I have to go through everything. Yesterday, I found some fake journal entries of soldiers in trenches during WWII that I wrote in 11th grade, for a combined history and creative writing assignment. They were fairly over-dramatic, but also surpisingly powerful, and showed some growth in my writing voice. I also find tidbits of Vanya everywhere, like this sketch from the back of some Art History flashcards my freshmen year of college: I’d seen some boys in France who pulled off the hair-in-a-high-ponytail look really well, and I was fooling around with whether that would work for Vanya in the second book. (The answer is probably not, since it makes him look even more like a girl, but there’s still something about it I kind of like.) I even found some narrative on the back of the card:

…his hair had grown, of course, and he had taken to wearing it up in a sort of topknot, or messy bun. Strands of the blonde were forever escaping to blow around his face. This did nothing to decrease his femininity, and as a result both boys and girls were always staring…

This is also when Vanya was still the “emo kid,” with his fishnet shirt, although it looks like I was finally on my way to figuring out how to draw his cheekbones and jaw-line. Shows how things change: for the current version of the book, I decided the fishnets weren’t necessary for his character, and I no longer wanted to look at them in every illustration.

Do you keep everything you’ve ever written, or are you more the light-it-all-on-fire every few years type? Feel free to drop a line in the comments below. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Old Stuff, Old Vanya

    • That’s a good idea! I should probably do that from now on, but at this point it would take so much time to scan all the years of stuff that it hardly seems worth it. Maybe someday, when I have a secretary or something. 🙂

  1. I used to save everything. I still save a lot, but I think that I’ve cut down significantly. When I was a kid, I saved every scrap of paper I ever wrote anything on; I think that my logic was that someday, someone might steal one of my stories. The public, of course, would go crazy over this stolen poem about fingernail polish or story about a sheriff pig, and the thief would be carried through the streets in celebration. Upon seeing the parade, I would run out of a nearby building, wildly waving my scribble-covered Burger King napkin shouting, “It was mine!!” I’m pretty sure now that that is never going to happen, but I still keep a digital copy just in case.

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