Archive for January 10th, 2012

As I mentioned here before, for Christmas I got a new (reconditioned) computer.  You have no idea how much I really, really need it.  I mean, my old computer is  more than 10 years old and it has a huge old honkin’ monitor instead of a flat screen.  As for the operating system — it’s prehistoric.

So really it’s kinda ironic that I haven’t hooked the new one up yet.  But this is because a) the new flat screen arrived only a couple days ago since there was only so much I could carry through an airport, so something had to be shipped home; and b) I’ve got years’ and years’ worth of old files on my old computer, and I am way overdue going through them and deleting and thinning them out.

You know those TV shows that reveal sad, pathetic hoarders living on top of mountains of possessions and crap and personal treasures and trash and too many boxes and furniture and twenty or thirty feral cats and other stuff? Well, that’s how I am with my old writing files.  The rest of my home is fairly organized and clean and spacious.  But the files on my computer and on a few memory sticks and in file folders and in a few boxes are just, well… overwhelming.

So are any of you the same?   You have lots of outdated versions of your manuscripts lying around?  Gobs of outdated chapters on your C drive?  Electronic notes on characters and plots and other literary flotsam and jetsam that you wrote years ago?   Well, if you think you’re bad for clearing out your defunct literary efforts, you should see what’s on my old computer.   It ain’t pretty.

See, one of the problems I have is my historical novels and a thriller like The Compass Master called for many megabytes of research.  Sure, my book is finished  and published, and I’m readying two more novels (historicals) for publication.  And I simply don’t NEED to hold onto what must be hundreds of pages of research.  So why haven’t I let go of this stuff?

One reason might be that I’m plagued with insecurity.  What if someone challenges my authority on some facts in my books?  What if a reader questions my sources?  I mean, real historians seem to keep their bibliographies and sources for an eternity.  Maybe by doing the same for my fictional work I’m attaining a kind of legitimacy.

But that doesn’t explain the umpteen versions of old chapters of manuscripts I’ve kept.  Or the mess of odd notes to myself that I can’t understand.  Or the lists of possible names for characters.  Or the entire manuscripts I’d rather see go up in flames than ever allow them to go into print.

So anyway I’ve started clearing away some of these literary garbage piles, and you know what?  It feels good.  I feel like my brain is getting cleared out right along with my computer.  Like I’m undergoing a kind of personal feng shui and my mental energy is flowing again.  And that once I get my new computer up and online I’m gonna be SO careful what old files I load onto it.  If I ain’t sure about other files, they’re going on a memory stick which can sit in a drawer until hell freezes over.

Problems solved.