11 January 2012

Evolution of the Wastebasket

  “A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason.”
~ Margaret Atwood

The wastebasket evolved into the delete key, which sometimes, unfortunately, sometimes, not unfortunately, is final. I have hit the delete key too many times, in the course of my writing in general. Once, I highlighted a folder, yes, an entire folder, held down the shift key and punched delete—sending that disgusting shit I had written and was allowing to ferment in that precious space on my hard-drive into the dark recesses of wherever shit goes when you delete it from your hard-drive. I should hit the delete key on that sentence.

Writing is difficult and it doesn’t—does NOT—get easier the longer you do it. Certain aspects of writing may become nearly effortless, or nearly automatic with persistent practice, such as grammar, spelling, organizing thoughts. You know, the mechanical shit. The great thoughts, the great syntactical fireworks that you know will blow the roof off your readers’ heads—that shit does not get easier, so stop waiting for it to attain simplicity and just keep writing. OK? OK.

Now, back to that delete key. The writers who refuse to use computers to write have an advantage: it is a great deal more difficult to throw away an actual piece of paper with words written in sweat, tears and blood, than it is to delete some magic dots on the screen. I know. I have tried this. Also, if you wake up and realize that not everything you have written is fly-covered dung, you can simply reach into the wastebasket and retrieve the virtuosity of your pen or typewriter. Or, maybe frantically begin throwing all the balled up pieces of paper (some with sunflower seed shells and gum and … what is that? covering them, causing the blood or sweat or tears to run into illegibility) and flattening them madly, in your attempt reclaim the brilliance you so blithely tossed aside. The finality of the delete key scares hell out of me, because I have many times remembered something somewhat dazzling that I had written, and when I went to hunt it down, realized with great horror that it was in that folder which was sent to digital hell by the swift unmerciful action of the delete key and my impetuous judgment of the shitty-ness of my writing contained therein.

Well, I hope that cheered all your little souls to bursting. Have a great day and use care in the presence of the devil… I mean, delete key.

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