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Hoarding

In my never-ending quest to be way to honest to the Internet about things nobody asked about, today I'm going to spend a few paragraphs on one of my worst habits: hoarding.

Picture taken shamelessly from www.hoarders.com.
Not the physical kind.  I don't have piles of junk around my house.  Well, I mean, I do, but it's all junk I'm either using or I just haven't organized yet.

(God, the animal hoarders on that show are just the worst, aren't they?  I know it's a psychological disorder and they're not actually bad people, but those are always the most horrifying episodes.  You want inspiration for a unique and terrifying movie?  How about a monster that hoards humans?  He kills them with his love.)

Anyway, I'm referring to digital hoarding.  Specifically, my writing.

I mentioned before that I've got this terrible fear that I need to save every possible story idea that comes to mind, lest I accidentally lose out on what could have been The Greatest Book Ever.  That fear - combined with more than one total computer failure that led to the hard drive being wiped - is probably what compels me to be as anal as possible about saving every draft of everything I write.

On the one hand, it makes sense.  Being able to dig through past revisions can help to remind you of the progress you've made on a project.  You can also sometimes salvage one or two good ideas from a story that otherwise didn't work at all.  And every once in awhile - rarely - you find that a previous draft actually had a paragraph or two that worked better than what you have now.

On the other hand?  It's this horrible labyrinth of embarrassing memories and terrible work.  You know those ridiculous scenes in Dreamcatcher where Damian Lewis is trapped inside his own brain and it looks like a warehouse?  My writing hoarding looks like that, except if every folder contained a half-finished essay I wrote when I was 13 about how much I hate following rules.  (And after writing them, I would go follow some rules - after all, I was only 13. I didn't want to fuck over my life.)

It is not possible for me to look at my writing hoard without flushing red and worrying that some stranger is reading over my shoulder.  There's so much bad work.

There's my very first screenplay, which I started writing when I was 12 and finished at 13 - a story about a kid who joins a gang through implausible circumstances, arbitrarily becomes their leader, tackles a rival gang over petty reasons, and then dies in a way that's meant to be poetic, all of which was written by a white kid in the suburbs who hadn't even watched any good gang movies yet.  The screenplay, if visualized literally, would basically be the kids from Hackers picking a fight with the Foot Clan from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, except with a wildly inappropriate rape scene.

There's my very first serious attempt at a novel, which naturally had to become the first part of a trilogy (because heaven forbid that I try to tell a simple story).  It's about thirty protagonists seeking control of a quasi-religious fantasy plot device and how their conflicting goals lead to strife and death.  "Should I maybe try to just focus on four or five protagonists and really build up some characterization and depth?" asks Li'l Josiah.  "Nah. Thirty, dude.  Thirty's going to be extreme," says Baby Josiah.

Then there's my fourth screenplay, which I'm ashamed to admit that I actually finished writing at 19 and which runs for almost 180 pages.  This literally needs to be cut in half; and upon reflection, I realize that easily 60 pages of that is just spent on melodramatic teenage bullshit.  If filmed, the inciting moment for the plot wouldn't have happened until just over an hour in.  (Actually, considering how meandering, bloated, and poorly-thought a lot of movies are today, maybe I should seriously try to sell this one.)

I never want to share these early works with the world.  They're so ridiculously awful.  But I feel like I'd be destroying a part of myself if I ever deleted them, so I keep the files.  Not only do I keep them - I back them up, make multiple redundant copies, and protect them with a sense of paranoia at the realization that we live in an impermanent universe.

When I put it like that, it feels like I'm not far off from an actual hoarder's mentality.  "What if I need it?" combined with "They're all my babies!"

So, in the event of my untimely death, I request that whoever goes through my files (if anyone) please just disregard everything that's in the folder marked, "Wastebasket / Archive."  There's nothing of value in there.  Trust me on this.