The Recycle Bin

I was back in my room playing with a poem. It was another one of those hot hard nights and I couldn’t find the strength to write a few decent lines.

So I gave up on writing and that, admittedly, was my biggest mistake of the entire night.

I decided to play with my laptop a bit. As I moved my cursor on the bright screen in front of me, I came across a small icon that resembled a white trashcan. It was the recycle bin. I double-clicked it and went through the large list of items inside. They were all previous writings I had decided to discard because they weren’t deemed ‘good enough’. Not that the current batch was any better, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Anyhow, my little experience with the recycle bin got me thinking: what if I started recycling some of my old ideas? What if I decided to go back and retrieve the stories that turned into such horrible and pitiful writing?

What if all writers started recycling their thoughts? Would the world start reading nothing but altered versions of the same plots? Where would creativity find its source?

It bothered me. But at the same time, it felt like an attractive proposition. On the one hand, it provided a platform to work on – everything was in store: the ideas, the plot, the location, the characters…. But on the other, what if it failed to build on the previous attempts? What if my writing didn’t improve and I kept reproducing the same old-fashioned horrible stories – or worse – even more horrible stories?

I was no longer I creator – I was a reproducer of the craft. I was no longer a writer since writing required wit and creativity. I was like a poor man who had to rely on bits of food and offerings to live. I fed on my past failures to try to chase down the unlikeliest of successes.

But how did the recycle bin manage to make it work? It was so elegant, so handy, so tidy with its disposal system. It allowed you to go back and check whatever you discarded without a hint of shame or remorse.

I wish I was a recycle bin. I wish I was a good writer. I wish I was a creator.

It was still hot. A string of heat waves blew in from the window. I was still caught between trying to work on that poem I had started or going back to my old material and trying to come up with something new, something fresh – something good.

The temptation was growing stronger. I could feel every part of my writer skin shrieking in terror. My entire molecular structure was reacting against me. There was uproar in me, a mutiny I never felt before. It was as if my conscience had suddenly come to life and tried to prevent me from committing a great crime.

But what crime was I guilty of? Looking into some of my old writings for inspiration?

Yes. By doing that, I was undermining the act of creation – a necessary process in the scheme of every writer.

I was torn by this visceral temptation that almost felt like a second skin to me. Was I truly losing my touch? Was I ready to betray my craft in favor of an easier route to success?

But there are no shortcuts to writing. And that seemed sufficient to stop me from accomplishing what would possibly have been my greatest act of treason toward this craft.

So I settled for what I had: a small room with a writing desk, a laptop with a bunch of recycled writings, and a paper with what looked like the beginning of a poem on it.

I moved my cursor and placed it on top of the recycle bin icon again. I double-clicked on it and entered the folder. I took one last hard look at the items inside, before exiting the trashcan folder and shutting down the laptop for the night.

I went back to the paper in front of me. It had the beginning of a poem on it. It was a poem I started writing not long ago. I decided to give it a go and work on it.

After all, it can’t be worse than anything else I’ve written.

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