Have Confidence in Your Words
A wise, multi-published author once told me, “NEVER delete anything.”
I’ve tried to make it a habit to save everything, which is a difficult thing to do when your self-editor is vigilant. Thank goodness there have been a few times I made the effort to save a story.
Many, many years ago during college, I spent time at a friend’s ranch. The ranch foreman was an old cowboy that had a story or two to tell. Wise and weather worn from spending a life-time punching cows, I remember he had the most brilliant blue eyes and he was one of the most laid-back, happiest people I’d ever met.
A spark of an idea turned into a story about that cowboy many more years later for a writing class assignment. I never thought about it again, but I’m so glad that I kept it in my class notes. Fast forward another ten years, a callout popped up into my inbox asking for stories for a Christmas collection with a West Texas theme. That cowboy and his life immediately came to mind. Within 30 minutes of my submission, I got confirmation back that my short story has been accepted.
You never know where and when your words might find a home. Sometimes we write in one form and those words can take on a life of their own and end up as something entirely different. I love when that happens!
Instead of deleting, cut and paste unwanted scenes, dialogue, and chapters, and move them into a separate file. Give it a clever name on your computer, like “My Musings” or “Brilliant Ideas”. Keep an idea file folder for those story sparks that you’ve written on restaurant napkins, scraps of paper, or sticky notes. Never let an idea pass through your brain that you don’t write down. Keep an idea journal and jot down everything when it comes to you, whether it’s a setting, a character, or a bit of dialogue.
You can read my story “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing” in the anthology of more than 30 heart-warming and humorous Christmas stories—all set in West Texas or by West Texas writers.
West Texas Christmas Stories
Edited by Glenn Dromgoogle
Abilene Christian University Press; http://www.acu.edu/campusoffices/acupress/
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