Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Letting Go of Our Darlings

Posted on Feb 8, 2017 by Lisa Ricard Claro   28 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

We writers write. It’s what we do. And writing means collecting—okay, hoarding—stacks and stacks and stacks of papers containing short stories, poems, notes, outlines, and even entire novels. At least, that’s what it meant in the old days, before the digital world exploded and one-hundred-thousand words could be saved on a space the size of a pinhead.

For those of us old enough to remember how it used to be, we still have all those stacks of stuff. All my earlier writing is tucked away in shoeboxes and shipping boxes, in folders and binders, all waiting for either revision and digital saving or shredding, the latter to ensure no one will ever read any of it. Trust me, you don’t want to endure the purple prose.

I have things I wrote in high school, and a novel I penned in my early 20s when the only thing I understood about writing was that I loved to do it. There is half a novel I wrote by hand on multiple legal pads before my time and sanity were hijacked by motherhood and an outside career. Those early things I wrote will never see the light of day. Ever. So why is it so difficult to relegate them to the trash heap?

Since our last little chickadee flew the coop, the hubster and I have begun to downsize. We’ve prowled through the attic and emptied the closets in every room. We’ve sorted through everything thirty-seven years of marriage has collected. No small feat. The only remaining holdout is my closet, where the aforementioned boxes and binders and stacks reside.

“I’ll take care of it this week,” I told my man—two months ago.

While my sensible side tells me there’s no reason to save that silly historical romance—which has no chance of publication and which I would be humiliated for anyone to read—the other side of me, the sentimental side, can’t endure the notion of taking all that hard work and dumping it. That is the only solution though, if I don’t want my children snickering over it after I kick the bucket and go to the giant writing room in the sky.

Admittedly, there are a couple of those old manuscripts I do intend to revise and see published. But the bulk of stuff is not, and will never be, ready for prime time. And while it may constitute many pieces of myself, is it really more important than other things I’ve collected through the years, things this downsizing project has required me to kiss and release? There is freedom in letting go.

And so, buttercup, I’m at a crossroads. In my heart I know it is time to unload those writings I don’t intend to revisit. They are nothing short of a fire hazard, collecting dust in dark corners. And yet . . . and yet . . .

I suppose I don’t know what I will do until I have already done it. I’ll let you know.

What about you? Do save everything you’ve written, or do you trash those things you know have no value beyond the sentimental? What would you do, if you were me?

Thanks for hanging out with me. See you next week for more of the Naked Truth.

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28 Responses to "Letting Go of Our Darlings"

  1. Comment by Claudia
    February 8, 2017 at 10:12 am  

    You put this clearly and truly. I’ve weeded some but could do more. After last five years of cleaning in laws things with no help I don’t want to leave amess for my children. But……some pages hard to toss despite poor quality for the emotion they hold.

    • Comment by Rob
      February 8, 2017 at 10:20 am  

      I’d go through it and keep the little bits of inspired writing. Then have a big fire in the backyard. With some wine.

      • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
        February 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm  

        As usual, sir, I like the way you think!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 8, 2017 at 3:43 pm  

      Agreed. There are few things I’ve written that don’t bring me back to the emotions I held when I wrote them. Still, I think it’s time for me to do some real clean out. *sigh*

  2. Comment by Stephanie Trietsch
    February 8, 2017 at 10:17 am  

    LOL! We moved 8 (yep, EIGHT) times in 5 years. Each time we downsized. I managed to lose only 1 box of my clothes, summer linen outfits, swimwear, but I digress.

    Somewhere along the way I also lost a piece I wrote in my college fiction class that I would love to read again and a piece written since our last move that was a character sketch that should be saved electronically somewhere…that I have been unable to sniff out over the past five years.

    Lesson learned: Shred if you must but scan first!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm  

      Holy smoke! Eight times in five years! We moved a lot early in our marriage because my husband worked for Hyatt Hotels, but we didn’t move that much! Scanning would take forever—thousands of pages—and then if I decided to do anything with them they’d still have to be typed in. Still, there are some things that would be worth scanning. I may take the time to do that. Thanks.

  3. Comment by Rena McDaniel
    February 8, 2017 at 10:24 am  

    I have an entire office filled with things that will never be seen yet I can’t seem to part with. I’m really good at getting rid of excess everywhere else, but it’s like cutting out a piece of my heart to throw them out.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 8, 2017 at 3:46 pm  

      I know…a piece of ourselves is in everything we write.

  4. Comment by Carla
    February 8, 2017 at 10:31 am  

    Oh those darlings. Yes I save all of them. I think partly and hope someday I return, reread, and marvel how amazing I was. That hasn’t happened yet 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 8, 2017 at 3:46 pm  

      Haha! Yeah, hasn’t happened for me either.

  5. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    February 8, 2017 at 10:36 am  

    Well, as we must’ve been separated at birth, I, too, have the binders, folders, boxes of stuff. But in cleaning out my parents’ house (and they’d done a major overhaul when they moved to the beach twenty years ago), I had a moment. And that moment went something like this: I HAVE TO GET RID OF ALL THE STUFF IN MY HOUSE THAT’S GATHERING DUST.

    This is the Year of Tossing Out. And I can’t fuss at my grown kids about their stuff if I’m not willing to toss mine, too. And so I’m keeping tear sheets, books, magazines of what I’ve had published. It’s just one bookcase, after all. The rest is getting dumped (though unlike you,the vast majority of my stuff is saved virtually).

    And so I’d say, dump the stuff that you know will never see the light of day. Maybe ESPECIALLY the stuff that you wouldn’t want to ever get out there. 🙂
    Except maybe that first historical romance novel. It’ll keep you humble (and provide some much needed comic relief for your kids when you’re gone)!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm  

      Well, it WILL make my kids laugh hysterically. There is that. The other thing is, as bad as I know that book is, I’ve lived with those characters in my brain for 30 years. They’re like old pals. I feel guilty at the thought of shredding them up! But this whole downsizing thing has been great. I have space in my closets again, and we’re really unloading stuff. It feels good.

  6. Comment by Pat
    February 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm  

    I go through phases. I can’t stand the thought of throwing something away, and then the need to purge hits and good-bye. Seldom have I regretted the good-bye.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm  

      There’s something to be said for just taking the plunge. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. The world doesn’t end. My brain knows that. My heart…*sigh* What if I need something in that pile of papers later? lol

  7. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    February 8, 2017 at 12:39 pm  

    I’m a digital hoarder as well as sometimes a physical hoarder (but I’m not a writer).

    I wish I could take credit for this tip but it was actually a good friend who suggested it. I think she read about it some place. Anyway, it seemed to work for me even though it was still a bit hard.

    We had 38 years of stuff we collected since we got married and I had 38 years worth of awards and memories after working at the same place for all that time. So here’s what I/we did when we moved 1,100 miles after living in the same town forever…

    I removed almost everything from their frames and took pictures. I took pictures of sentimental stuff that I just couldn’t keep any longer due to lack of space. The process was very freeing. I found that after taking pictures (which live on in my digital hoarding) I didn’t mind nearly as much letting go of everything.

    I just wish I could get back on track by getting rid of the excess stuff we moved that we shouldn’t have. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm  

      Hmm. Taking photos. Not a bad idea! Thanks!

  8. Comment by Laurie Stone
    February 8, 2017 at 4:05 pm  

    Its the bane of all writers’ existence. There’s nothing worse than a pile of unfinished manuscripts mocking us!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 10, 2017 at 9:03 am  

      True! And the unfinished ones hold promise, even when we know that don’t. lol

  9. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    February 8, 2017 at 6:27 pm  

    For me, the longer I have something the harder it is to part with. So I have the tendency to throw stuff away as soon as I can and then forget about it. I’m completely up front with my kids about this too. I’ll say, “Oh this is so pretty! I’ll keep it for one day.” 🙂 It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But they understand that they’re the ones that will end up with it eventually. With my writing, I try to save a few horribles, and toss the rest. There’s always more where that came from anyway. 🙂 Kudos to you for going through all your closets though! I’m really impressed with your organizational skills. That’s a great skill for a writer to have!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 10, 2017 at 9:04 am  

      Deb, with seven children gifting you with drawings and other creations, I completely understand why you cannot save everything. Your method is awesome, though, and I wish I’d done that when my kids were little.

  10. Comment by Sioux
    February 8, 2017 at 6:35 pm  

    Lisa–I had the same idea Rob did. I think you should have a bonfire in April or May, after sorting, and when that smoke goes up (made up of all those words you toiled over) it will inspire new words… Roast some marshmallows, make some s’mores and drink some wine, while you’re at it.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 10, 2017 at 9:05 am  

      We aren’t really set up here for a bonfire, but is it okay if I eat chocolate and drink wine next to the paper shredder in my husband’s office? lol

  11. Comment by 1010ParkPlace
    February 8, 2017 at 9:18 pm  

    Last year I made a major move, and my scraps of brilliant lines and story ideas were the last things I tackled. With the movers coming the next day, I was motivated to just chuck them all. There may have been a best seller in there somewhere, but you know what? Out of sight, out of mind. Brenda

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 10, 2017 at 9:07 am  

      Yes…out of sight, out of mind—and you no doubt have plenty of newer ideas coming up the pipe! One thing I’ve discovered with my “idea” folder, to my chagrin, is that what I deemed brilliant enough to save is often not quite so shiny after time has passed.

  12. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    February 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm  

    I have college writing that I can’t but should part with. Enough said. I tend to save my stuff, and then go back and realize how much my writing has improved.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 10, 2017 at 9:08 am  

      There is that, seeing the improvement. It always makes me wonder about my current work, though—will I look back in five years and wonder, “What was I thinking?”

  13. Comment by Theresa Sanders
    February 9, 2017 at 6:38 pm  

    Lisa, I’m going through this very thing right now. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in the spring and can’t now live alone. I couldn’t take her into my home because of all upstairs bedrooms and she uses a wheelchair. So we moved together to a new house in the fall. I am amazed at the collection of paper, folders, books, etc etc that I’ve accumulated. Trying to purge and organize has been a nightmare! But I’m telling myself, just be brutal about it. If you’re never going to use it again, throw it away and be done. Taking the emotion out of it is difficult, though, I agree. Good luck on that closet!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 10, 2017 at 9:10 am  

      Oh, Theresa, I’m so sorry to learn of your mom’s diagnosis. I’ve no doubt you’ll enjoy your time with her now in your new home, making memories together in a place that belongs to both of you.

      I will be tackling that closet on Saturday, so I’ll be back here to let everyone know how it goes. 🙂


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