I had occasion over the weekend to dig through some old boxes of scripts and stories I wrote years ago. I found some duplicate copies and stuff I no longer cared about and decided to get right of the dead weight.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard about writers burning their early works, but it seems to have been a fairly common occurrence. And I can understand the appeal. Fire as metaphor and ritual seems to be a human constant, signaling everything from death to purification to rebirth.
I had about five thousand pages to dispose of, and believe me, I wanted to burn them. I wanted the act, the warmth of the fire, and the ashes. Particularly the ashes.
Because we live in a world dying from greenhouses gasses, such things are frowned upon these days, and recycling is the norm. So I recycled.
But I wanted to look into that fire.
— Mark Barrett
Cheryl Anne Gardner says
Yea, the paper shredder just doesn’t have the same overall effect.
I thought about whether I needed to shred or not. Then I had this absurd thought that somebody might come across the writing while it was being recycled, see my name, look me up on the web, and offer me a four-book/two-picture deal.
But it gets better.
After shaking my head at the thought of anyone caring about (or stealing) my discarded work, the image of a desperate agent/editor came to me. I saw him hiding inside a recycling bin, looking over pieces of paper in the dead of night with a small penlight in his teeth. He hadn’t eaten in days, his clothes were a mess, but he was sure he was going to make a discovery that would bring him a four-book/two-picture deal.
It was at that point that I smiled.