No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen can become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They would make the next words better. – Eric Bow
Katherine gave us this last excerpt for English 125 class. Reading it a couple of times felt like inspecting a smooth stone, I turned it over and over again, making sure I would encode this moment in my head as a writer. It seemed like an advice I badly needed, but never knew I did. As an occasional writer, I identified with this excerpt closely. It gave me the reassurance to pick up where I left off even in the belief that my last few pieces were terrible, obsolete and irrelevant. Even in my self-doubt, I knew I had to continue, to struggle with myself because writing is just that. It is the process of untangling your thoughts and persisting in uncharted waters. It is voluntarily choosing to sail into the untamed oceans, knowing that there are terrible storms to weather, waiting for you in the endless horizon. It is knowing that there will be perils along the way. The horizon will seem frighteningly scary sometimes. Sometimes will feel like forever. Nevertheless, soon you will come to know that you will not be afraid of the horizon anymore. You will have faith in it.
When you are out at sea, you have no choice but to confront yourself.
You choose to sail because the journey is worth it. Trust the process. That’s what you often hear. Usually it is never quite about the end product. The transformation process is keeps making you return to the writing table (or laptop). Keep all your notes. Keep all your pieces and failed loafs. Because all of that will matter when you are in a writing rut. Take all the older pieces out and try to map out your progress. You’ll see how far you’ve come and see how you’ve taken the process for granted. You’ve come a long way from all those cringy written ones.
You are an imperfect writer and thats the essence of it. The imperfections in your writing, the rusted bits and disjointed stitches created you, an original layered on top of multiple copies you’ve emulated from other great writers. Like a quilt, you’ve patched up what you liked from others, learned from mistakes be it yours or other writers. Writing is a journey of learning and it is subject to perception, relevance to certain groups and especially authenticity.
You’re here now and thats what matters. Trust that all you’ve written is essential to creating future beautiful pieces.
(Images from Google Images)