Nothing Is Wasted

bloomI’m feeling a trifle discouraged today.  This morning I finally resigned myself to the fact that the entire middle section of the book I’ve been working on for the past year has to be dumped, and what doesn’t need to be dumped has to be revised.

I say “resigned” rather than “realized” because on some level I think I’ve known for a while I had to make these changes. I just didn’t want to make them. So I spent a great deal of time and energy trying to find a way to make the scenes work. But they’re just wrong and they make the book wrong and so they have to go.

This is the life of a writer – you think the book is the way it should to be right up until the day you recognize that it isn’t. Then you work very hard to keep everything patched together, when really you should just get it over with and make the change.

When I have a day like today, I have to remind myself that nothing is wasted. I might have worked very hard on something that needs to be cut, but it’s not wasted. The words I’ve written are not wasted – even if I never use them in an actual manuscript.

In a lot of ways, it’s not the words themselves that matter anyway – it’s the experience of writing the words. By writing the passages that I hacked all to pieces this morning, I learned more about my characters and my story, and more about myself as a writer. I learned this both by the writing, and by the recognition of the need to cut the writing.

If there’s one thing I believe with my whole heart it is this: Nothing is wasted if you learn from it. I’m serious – believing this is the only thing that keeps me (relatively) sane. If I thought all of the things I’ve started and stopped or just plain failed at were wasted, I would not be able to continue, and I sure as hell would never try anything new.

What you do, the effort you put out, is not wasted. Your life is not wasted. Your work is not wasted. Even if you have to cut it. Even if you have to change direction. Even if it means your manuscript STILL isn’t finished because you went in the wrong direction.

Nothing is wasted. As long as you learn from the experience.

Then you move on.

Oh, and the good news?  After gritting my teeth and making the cuts in my manuscript this morning, I feel an energy towards it I haven’t felt in weeks.  I can actually see where it needs to go now – not where I was trying to make it go.  And that’s a good thing.

field of poppies


  1. Printed this! I’m going to hang it in my Studio.

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