Bits, Pieces, Kids

By Susan Wagner

What happens to those small bits of writing you do that don’t seem to fit easily into a category? You know what I mean — comments on __ (fill in the blank), poems you started but never finished, novel ideas – you get the picture.

Maybe these pieces sit and wait on your desk, in a file or journal, or even on the computer. They languish until the day you remember them again. If you ever do.

Sometimes you let a spouse or another writer read them. Maybe you talk about them, much like you talk about your children. If you’re lucky, someone will like it and encourage you to write more. That may inspire you to develop your bit or piece into something longer. That’s great.

Or you might get the reaction I recently got –

“Well, it’s good idea, but what are you going to do with it?”

Obviously I don’t know or my bit/piece/kid by wouldn’t be sitting around waiting its turn to be revised, finished and sent into the world.

So, in need of suggestions, I asked some friends what they did with their bits and pieces.

A couple of people told me they post their bits on Facebook. I’ve seen some of these and I always try to post something encouraging when I know a writer wants feedback. It’s a quick and easy way to see how people react to your work and can be emotionally satisfying for the writer. Of course, it’s hit and miss. Not all of us check our Facebook page every day.

Also, your Facebook friends may have no idea what good writing looks like and will basically “like” anything you post. While this can be good for the ego on some days, it’s not always helpful if your goal is to improve your work.

Two other people I know collect their pieces and use them at a later date as writing prompts. They keep a box or file and randomly pull a piece out and start writing on the topic. Sometimes, this leads them to a finished product that is publishable in some format. Or it generates ideas that can then be used in other writing work.

One woman gathers her bits and pieces and puts them in an order that’s rather like a puzzle. She looks for common themes, subjects or moods and fits them together until they form something new. That something new might be a long prose poem or an essay. If you like puzzles, you might like to try this method.

All of the writers were aware of online groups that read posted work and give feedback.  They were unsatisfied with that option, preferring to personally know who was reading their work and giving them feedback. It could be a friend of a friend but they wanted to know something about the person.

This summer I looked through old files and found bits I have no memory of writing. Some are years old. Some I like a lot. Others — not so much. I put them into two files. Green is for things I’m likely to use sometime soon. Red is for things I’m not likely to use but don’t want to throw away. Since I hate throwing out any writing, that file is pretty big. Red may soon birth Red 2. We’ll see

The ideas in these bits/pieces/kids, now safe in their files, currently marinate in my head. Or perhaps they’re stewing. Whatever. I have no idea if they’ll become anything beyond what they are, but I live in eternal hope. I keep Green and Red next to my desk where I can easily see them. If nothing else, they will prick my writing conscience.

“We’re still here, Mom!” they shout now and then. “Still here!”

Sigh. Kids.

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