I recently unfriended over 180 people on Facebook.
I’ve previously considered deactivating my account; I rarely use Facebook other than to look at photos and stay in touch with family.
Then I realised what was really putting me off.
Every time I’d log in, my newsfeed would be a sea of half-forgotten names – people I haven’t seen or spoken to in over a decade, and am unlikely to ever speak to again.
That guy who I last saw in fifth grade isn’t my friend. Neither is his younger sister. Neither are most of the people who attended my school, or many of my acquaintances from university. While their names and faces may be familiar, I (and they!) have changed so much over the last few years that we may as well be strangers.
I looked through my friends list and wondered: why am I holding on to these people?
But what does this have to do with writing?
Story ideas are much like friends.
As part of my spring e-cleaning, I’ve sorted through my writing folder – tidying up projects, deleting unnecessary drafts, and tackling that dreaded “to sort” folder.
At one point, I browsed through my ongoing projects list – a sea of half-forgotten titles, stories I haven’t thought about or worked on in years, and am unlikely to ever work on ever again.
Those half-baked novel ideas and outlines? They’re not my friends. I don’t know who they are anymore, and they don’t know the kind of author I am, either. I’m never going to write that romance novel, or finish the sea creature story, or figure out why the time travel thriller didn’t work. I have too many other ideas I’d rather be working on.
As I looked through my projects list, I wondered: why am I holding on to these stories?
So I selected them all and dragged them into an archive folder, which is pretty much like unfriending, if you ask me.
And if one day an old story idea or old friend knocks on the door and we reignite our friendship – brilliant.
But in the meantime, I have new friends to meet.
In the same boat. Deleting stuff is often as important or more important than creating stuff, and gets into signal-to-noise territory. There’s only so much material that you can sort through because sorting takes time. The important documents get buried in a sea of irrelevancy.
Like clues in mysteries.
List his tie color, because it is CRITICAL later when the witness turns out to be colorblind and also the murderer and also the detectives long-lost brother who is also the guy who hired him.
I’ve read that last sentence three times and am still confused.
I choose to take that as a compliment, although after a read through of my comment I realize that I forgot to add an apostrophe and a point.
I’ll take point to mean “meaning” instead of a full stop.
Sooo, the guy who hired him is the detective’s long lost brother and is colourblind? I’m not sure whether the witness IS also the murderer or whether they are just both colourblind? ANd that was more than 3 reads to deduce what may still be incorrect.
You were trying to wake us up, oui?
this is so good. I’ve just made an archive folder and a new folder. as soon as I read this I thought that’s such a great idea! these stories are not my friends. I want new friends :)
I lock mine in the basement, and occasionally harvest them for parts when the need arises.
Ideas, I mean. I keep the people in the shed out back.