I have written a lot of crap in my quest to become a readable writer. Throughout that process, I kept every crappy manuscript my Brother typewriter generated. For years, they moved with me from place to place, state to state, closet to closet. I kept them mostly for sentimental reasons, but some of them I planned on revisiting one day.
As time passed and we moved into the digital age, the bygone era of these manuscripts became apparent. The paper clips that held the whiteout painted pages, staining the corners orange with rust. If I removed said paper clip, its outline permanently embossed within the paper.
I had not read many of these long abandoned manuscripts since the editor of some magazine returned them to me in a self-addressed stamped envelope with a form letter slipped under the original paperclip. Yet I clung to them like any artist clings to his or her crappy work. The face, only a father can love.
When I started this blog, my intent was to take those old typewritten pages, hope some descent OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software can pull the words and letters from those yellowed pages, and place them in an easily edible Word document. Alas, when I went to search them out, wondering what file cabinet they lived in these days, I came up empty-handed.
As was my wont, the problem of the missing manuscripts clicked into my mind over the next several days and I would sift through possibilities. Then, as it sometimes happens, a stray thought triggered a memory, and realization dawned on me like the blossoming of a nuclear mushroom cloud on the horizon. My old typewritten manuscripts went the way of old tax records and bank statements.
In a weak moment, while cleaning the file cabinet, I shredded them all!
I was dejected! I remember many of the titles, even to this day. “Warrior of Staradang”, a short story I never finished for my Science Fiction Literature class. Maybe I did finish it, but never finished the accompanying drawing the teacher requested. As I think about it, that manuscript never made it to the typewriter. It was hand written in a spiral notebook. I tore it out of that notebook with the fringes that remained holding the pages together like some pulp based Velcro.
There was “Con Hunter”, which ultimately morphed into the Earth First Trilogy. I may still have the original premise in an expanded form, but that old story is long gone. One story, I do not remember the title to what was a futuristic take on the Guardian Angels phenomenon of the eighties. I was so enthralled with that story that I tried to sell it as a comic book idea to Marvel. Wish I still had the drawings.
My artwork is another tale of loss, but not through a deliberate action. I lost those through neglect…maybe one too many moves.
But I digress. I pitched all my old stories and manuscripts in a deliberate act. I was in the process of an annual file cabinet cleaning chore, when I came across all those old stories. I was at the point in my life where I was no longer a writer. I wrote dozens of stories, and a novel, with no success. I was giving up, therefore, what was the point of keeping those musty old relics. I was a truck driver, and that was all I would ever be.
It is now with forlorn that I harken back to the pleasure I took in hearing the paper shredder “pop” the staples that held the pages of one particular manuscript together. None of those stories were publishable. In fact, most of them were crap! Nevertheless, they were mine, and I would have taken great pleasure in sharing them with the readers of this blog.
While some like “Con Hunter” and the story that became “Terra’s Stripling Space Nights” may have found new life. I would have taken pleasure in publishing most of the really old and silly ones as is. It would have been fun to see the progression from then to now.
Writing may never become my full-time job, but never again will I declare that I am not a writer, and destroy past works. It is important that we keep clear the path that leads us to the present.