Challenge Journal 2: Scrapped Work Isn’t Wasted Time

Ray told us a couple weeks ago that all the things that we work on won’t end up going into our final projects — it’s just part of the writing process. This has been a difficult lesson for me to accept because I hate wasting time and wish that everything I’ve written could work. It’s also kind of embarrassing to look back on things and wonder why they aren’t good and don’t make the cut. But it’s even better to catch things we deem as sub-par before they go into our final projects.

I had a crisis moment about a book I’m writing outside of class. It’s “finished,” but is anything really done? Anyway, I received a rejection letter after going through a few steps with an agent, so I thought I was going really far but had the possibility of working with this agent fall through the floor. In that moment read all of what I had wrote and hated it, exhausted of rejection and continual editing. But the next day I got an email from another agent that wanted to read my work. Instead of scrapping all that I had done, I used my previous words as foundation to replace them with better prose. I still kept the first line: “Listen to me, goddammit! My head is on a platter. I am not the boy who cried wolf. The dogs will soon eat me for dinner.” But I have made the prose more conversational and in-your-face: “You may think life is simple and defined by simple rules. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t. It’s strategic. It’s a cruel game. It’s a conglomeration of all that is good and holy and holey and demonized.”

For now, the dream is still alive! And I’m learning with my new poetry project that not everything I write will end up in the final version. So I keep writing, seeing what sticks, not judging my writing until I sit on it and review later.

It’s easy to get discouraged in writing, feeling like nothing is good or worth being proud of. But we can take that energy and process we’ve already gone through to write exponentially better works. It’s all about rolling with the punches and staying positive. I watched some of the Oscars and Get Out director, Jordan Peele, is a huge inspiration of mine. Even he was worried about his writing of Get Out. He apparently stopped writing it 20 times. We’ve all been there. We all have the potential to make amazing art if we don’t look at all that we do as wasted time.

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