I hate to admit it, but I’ve become self-conscious of my opening lines lately. After a certain other blogger mentioned how much he enjoyed my opening lines and some other bloggers commented kindly on my work in the post, I’ve become horribly aware of how pedestrian my recent openings have been. This doesn’t bother me. I write from the hip using a stream of consciousness method that works well for me, but yesterday was the first time it actually crossed my mind to construct a memorable opening line to keep up expectations. Now I’m not sure if this is crass, and tacky, or just incredibly self-centered, but it bothered me. So I did what I do in most other situations like this and went all Post Modern and self-referential, on it. Hence tonight’s post.

Now, onto what I did in Toledo this weekend. I’ve saved hard copies of most of my writing since my very first short story in junior high school. I also have all of the original drafts of the three novels that bore the Lunchbox Hero title. In addition to the hardcopies, I had electronic files for all of the books and most of the short stories which have survived several reformats of my harddrive. But this last time, I was dumping my files to a jump drive and didn’t get the novel files and they were wiped off the harddrive. I was horrified.

What if something happened to the hard copies? I would lose five years of work and a huge part of my identity. I was lamenting this situation to Toledo the last time I was there and she told me about this magical devise they have at her church. Its a copy machine that also acts as a scanner. And even better than that, you can high speed scan files directly into an Adobe pdf and email it from the copier. I was in heaven. So once we got the kinks worked out and figured out what we were doing, we scanned more than 1,000 pages including three novels and one spec script I wrote for FRIENDS. Now they are saved on my computer and offsite so Ill always have access to the beginning of my days as a writer.

What kind of records or old manuscripts do you still have around? Any painful losses? Funny stories?

12 thoughts on “

  1. When I left New York, I burned all of my mss in the building’s incinerator.Am I sad? Nah, it was shit.As the Coen Brothers said when they put out a director’s cut of Blood Simple (several minutes shorter than the theatrical release), no one should have to look at work they did in their twenties.Take my advice. Toss that stuff.

  2. If you were really writing from the hip, your blog posts would look like this:ajfpoiaujeopirapagoihiou ffiow joifjaspmjflejnro2qu.Which, honestly, would make them so much more readable.

  3. Well, since a lot of my old stuff was essentially copyright infringement, I destroyed it all. That was one bridge that needed burned. Still, I do have six yellowing abandoned drafts of the first Nick Kepler novel in my file cabinet. Something tells me I’ll need those drafts again, but it’s funny how only about three characters survived into the actual series. And the Kepler in these early drafts is not the guy in “A Walk in the Rain,” and a far cry from the guy in NCS.Re: Opening lines. After Stephen Rodgers’ classic one in PWG, I pretty much decided not to even bother trying. As long as it grabs it, it works.Well, in theory, anyway.

  4. I think he’s afraid to put up a picture of the shirt. Not that I blame him.When I was 18 or so, my mom found a letter I wrote in the fifth grade as punishment for talking out of turn in class. It was the kind rambling, vitriolic rant that you’d find written on the Unabomber’s tolet paper.Ever since I saw that I figured all my writing has a shalf life and I’ve made a point of not looking at previous work. I figure that it only hurt. The scary thing is, though, I suspect my style hasn’t changed much since then.

  5. Now, onto what I did in Toledo this weekend.Mate, I keep telling you – you can’t use the city’s name for your missus and for the city itself. It conjures up all sorts of images in my filth-ridden mind.On the actual subject, I’ve only got one non-published effort still floating around, and that’s only in the vague hopes of resurrecting it in some form one day (as it was not so much unpublishable as just something way outside my agent’s realm of expertise).I don’t miss the others at all.

  6. J.R.’s “filth-ridden mind” is infectious. I saw the line and knew what he’d say.I over-write on the computer so that I do not keep alternate versions at all. I did once lose a chapter and had to re-invent it. I’m not good at re-inventing. But there are hard copies of finished novels, back-up disks of finished stories, and rough hard copies of chapters that have come back from readers. All this purely for security and work purposes. I do not keep versions I have abandoned.

  7. ha! Me too! as soon as I read it, I knew Rickards was all over it. Plus the language you use: “Dumped”; “wiped off”? i’m trying to keep my head out of the gutter here but you keep slamming it back down!ironically at work we just got one of those copier/scanner thingies. fab. now all my lost scripts for “Friends” and “Saved by the Bell” won’t be forgotten.

  8. Darling, why don’t you just say “in Ohio” instead of continually giving all your dirty friends reasons to think I’m a slut? I’ve tried to be patient with you, but enough is enough.And Rickards, I’m definitely still a miss, not a missus.-Toledo

  9. our collective minds were born in the gutter and will stay there forever…(and I think John’s was created several past lives ago)

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