Saturday, October 15, 2011

Manuscripts: Shred ’Em or Store ’Em?

A recent Angie’s List “Big Deal” offered mobile shredding at a deep discount. Sierra Shred of Frisco, Texas, will come out to my place and shred 600 pounds of sensitive documents for just $65—half off the normal price.

Since signing up for a visit from Sierra’s shredder truck, I’ve been busy going through closets and file cabinets, gathering up ancient tax return documents, bank statements, canceled checks, credit card statements and the like. What a joy it will be to see that clutter get safely shredded and hauled off for recycling.


Other piles of paper are giving me pause, however. I have old drafts of my WATERSPELL trilogy going back for … well, going back a lot of years (more than I care to confess).

I know I don’t need to keep all those drafts. But I’ve never been comfortable tossing complete manuscripts—even draft manuscripts—into the regular recycled-paper bin. It’s not like I’m a famous author whose fans will go dumpster-diving to get a pre-release peak at my latest creation. Even so: I’ve been boxing my old drafts rather than let my husband take them to our neighborhood recycling center along with our junk mail, expired magazines, and exhausted newspapers.

Now’s my chance to permanently dispose of those old drafts. Once they are shredded, I can rest easy knowing that my intellectual property is safe from dumpster-divers.


Yet, I’m reluctant to get rid of ALL my drafts. The incremental ones can go—those with only cleanup edits from printout to printout.

I’ve decided to save the oldest drafts, however, and any that show the deep revisions I made as I progressed in my understanding of the history I was recording. The world of WATERSPELL became a very real place to me during all the years I spent learning about it, its inhabitants, and its history. To throw away my archives would be a vandalic act.

But at least I can reduce the volume of stored manuscripts by a third or more. And maybe when I become famous (!) a well-known research library will ask me for my draft manuscripts so students and scholars can follow the evolution of WATERSPELL from start to finish.

I’d best keep the phone number for Sierra Shred, though, in case nobody ever expresses a burning desire to study my authorial process. (Hmm … Maybe it’s best that no one but my closest writer-friends ever see those earliest drafts.)


All this spring-cleaning activity (never mind that it's fall—I do my spring cleaning as the spirit moves me) inspired me to post a de-cluttering essay at Smashwords.

It's free—please help yourself to "SIMPLE GREEN: Confessions of a Former Earthchild" at

Here's the synopsis:
SIMPLE GREEN: CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER EARTHCHILD, by a semi-lapsed environmentalist, is a rumination on keepsakes and mementos and how best to Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle them after somebody dies and leaves all their stuff behind—a life’s residue, inevitably destined for the landfill, unless a sentimental collector intervenes. A personal essay/memoir by Deborah J. Lightfoot, author of the WATERSPELL fantasy trilogy.

No comments:

Post a Comment