Scraps of Paper

Blog No. 57

We had our first snowfall this week.  We don’t always get snow in December where I live so it kind of snuck up on us (or at least it snuck up on me).  On top of that it has been legitimately cold.  It’s been cold everywhere and some places are bragging that it’s colder there than other places, but I think any place where water is frozen outside can say it’s cold.  I’m not exactly sure how I am going to spin this into the theme of the week, but snow and cold are indicators for the collapse into winter and that has an impact on how I think and feel and that’s going to come through in my next bunch of blogs (whether I want it to or not).  I do want to point out that I don’t hate winter but life is a little bit more of a struggle this time of year (with the weather and the vitamin D loss).

I was working on cleaning my desk and surrounding area and I found a pile of scrap papers.  Some of them were rather old going back to my early days at Chapters and some were from my new job.  I tend to jot down thought, ideas, and to-dos when I am at work.  I usually come up with an idea or remember something I have to do and while I can’t spend a bunch of time working on it (since I am at work and all) I just grab a scrap of paper and scribble down some notes.  It makes sense, but I don’t always take those notes and transfer them to permanent places.  Often times I found I would end up with a list that resembled an ancient puzzle and when I would run out of room or leave it at home I would start a whole new list.  They would add up and end up in a pile of folded paper and vague memories.  Some times I did transfer things and lately I have been scribbling things down in notebooks (because I carry around several for writing) or my day planner since I started using one because I got older and more mature or something (or I just got tired of scrambling around all the time and not being sure of what my schedule was like).

Even though I made those changes I still have a pile of paper that I didn’t go through (and since old habits die hard) I still occasionally add to.  While going through the rather substantial pile I came across a few old story ideas I completely forgot about.  Some of them are nothing more than a couple lines of dialogue or vague titles but a few of them were pretty solid story ideas.  If I include all my old scraps of paper and notes I have hundreds (maybe hundreds but for sure a lot) that are from as far back as high school.  Each one of them falls into those categories, random scraps of dialogue, titles, starting sentences or actual story ideas.  Some of it is garbage and some of it I forgot where I was even going with it, but every once in a while I come across a pretty good idea.

One idea from the most recent pile culling particularly struck my fancy.  It is one of those that’s just a bit of dialogue, but I can remember being excited about it and I am thinking about trying to make something out of it for next year.  I am a bit concerned though.  I find that lately I am more and more critical of those old ideas.  I find I have to really rework the whole concept and scrap all but a few key elements.  I’m trying to decide if I am really maturing as a storyteller or if maybe I am just being more difficult.  One option is pretty gratifying and the other is a bit scary.  If I am becoming a better storyteller – it’s great.  It’s the direction I want to go.  If I am becoming more difficult (and how could I become more difficult) I’m a little concerned.  I do think I am getting to be a better writer, I know I have a long way to go, but I have made some strides in the past year.  The group and I are doing the things we need to in order to get better.  But I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I am some how missing something, or losing out in some way.  The feeling is indeterminate and I’m not really sure what it is at all, but I feel like it has something to do with my creativity.

Lately I have noticed a drop in my number of new story ideas.  I still get a bunch of ideas all over the place, but I think I am getting fewer and I tend to be more dismissive of them.  I’m not sure if it is because I am actually spending more time (or any time) writing and I am in a different state of mind or if I am cutting myself off from that thing that I have that makes me have those ideas.  Maybe I’m not giving them enough of a chance or maybe I really do have fewer ideas coming to me.  It could have something to do with my current job.  I have more to do and there is more going on.  To be honest there is more for me to distract myself with too (I’m looking at you internet).  Then again, it could all be the way I am looking at things.  I really just don’t know.

I’m not all that scared that I am never going to have a good idea again.  I am being creative within the stories I am working on, and I still do get ideas all the time.  Maybe when I finish my next story I will have a flood of ideas that I have been holding back unconsciously or maybe I will just have to work a little bit at getting new ideas.  It’s still within my reach and I am currently inundated with more ideas than I can realistically get to in the next decade (though I may end up discounting some of those with my harsh criticism).  It’s like being buried under a pile of snow and still looking to the sky for the next snowfall.  That and scraps of paper can look like snow when they fall or are in a pile and are white.  There, it’s a stretch but I pulled the opening back into the end.  Ta, da!

2 thoughts on “Scraps of Paper

  1. Christian Laforet

    Haha I know what you are talking about. I do the same thing but am much more wasteful in my approach. I tend to start a new notebook with every idea and will enthusiastically fill in the first couple of pages only to then lose interest and add the notebook to an ever growing stack of them. And the next time I have an idea I don’t go back to that same notebook but rather start a completely new one. So I basically waste an entire notebook just I can scribble down a few thoughts (which I never do anything with).

  2. I think you and I should start a support group. I don’t think it will be too hard to find more writers with the same addiction. I think I have solved this dilemma by having specifically assigned notebooks. One is for short stories, one is for my novel and one is for miscellaneous ideas, scribbles, thoughts and really bad doodles. Since I’ve started I have only wasted one book. Thought I do pay way too much for my notebooks and that may have something to do with it.

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