When you discover your work is poo, when you are working on it, you want to just take the work and throw it in a fire. You don’t lose anything when it is poo. You lose time, but you gain time by abandoning the poo for something that is not poo. You also take the lessons learned from the poo and try not to make poo next time. Burn the poo in the fire, and start something new.
Except that in the digital age, with our redundant backup systems and constant flash-drives and dropboxes and tricks and wizardry, nothing is ever burned.
Someday, I will find this poo again, and I will have to smell it. I can’t just throw it away. I can’t do anything with it but wait until I am bored some night and desire to scour the back recesses of my backup systems for things that merit a second attempt.
Which is a waste of time thing that I do when I am too lazy to do anything else.
I want a place inside my recycle bin. I want it to be called “The Fire” and when I open my recycle bin, I can put the thing in the “fire” and it burns that out, also burns it out of any backups, and burns files that are attached or related to it in some meaningful way. Good-bye worthless story notes! Good-bye dozen or so stilted disaster openings! Good-bye! You are now all in the fire.
There is too much permanence in our world. It is an allusion of permanence. With the flood of media and datapoints, and the way passwords and technology actually functions, that sense that we are building powerful webs of interconnected “work” is a myth. Computers go obsolete and become paperweights. Children care only that the machines are wiped before they are recycled when we die. They do their best to pull out the pictures, but these photograph albums are so cheap, and there’s so many pictures, these days, that it will be a genuine hassle to sort them all, even as they are moved. Ergo, many will be lost. Many more will be, for all practical purposes, lost.
When we had fires, we were more particular about these things. We threw things in them, or we did not. If we kept them, we knew they were precious, because people didn’t have so very many things to hold onto.
I have too many things. I want to start a fire in the street outside my apartment. I want to toss in all the things that have accumulated: old shoes, old clothes, old bric-a-brac and papers that may have had a meaning once and all these things that someone must deal with, probably me, and certainly nothing that will be of interest to anyone if something were to happen to me, and all these things would be left behind.
Burn it. Burn it all.
And this miserable, horrible draft?
I will now throw it into a fire, and try again, as if this one never existed, for it is poo.