I recently discovered the best gift a writer can receive. It wasn’t a notebook or a pen. It wasn’t a set of inspirational quotes or a beautifully crafted edition of a beloved story.
It was a set of long lost manuscript notes.
Months ago, maybe a year ago now, I plotted out a new novel. I started working on the idea while traveling. I didn’t have my laptop available, and I almost never carry a notebook with me. But I had an idea. Several ideas, really. Terrible, wonderful, awful, fantastic ideas that I did not want to forget. So I did what any writer would do; I brainstormed on the garish red, orange, and yellow sheets of paper that were available. Then I promised myself that when I got home, I would transcribe all of those ideas so that I could use them for a future novel. With that in mind, I put those bright slips somewhere very, very safe.
And I promptly forgot where I put them.
This forgetting shouldn’t have surprised me. Whenever I am so foolish as to put something important somewhere I think is safe, I inevitably lose it. My brain translates ‘safe’ as ‘somewhere out of the ordinary’, and I can only ever remember the usual places things could be. I had given up the notes for lost when a tiny miracle happened.
I was going through an old file, and near the bottom, cheery, sunset colored pages peeked out at me. It turns out that I had put those notes in a safe place after all. They were just waiting for me to find them.
I don’t know whether or not I’ll use those notes in the near future, but it is a relief to have them nonetheless. Knowing that they were gone, gnawed at me. Without seeing what I had scrawled, I could imagine that my old ideas were extraordinary and that I would never be able to live up to them. Now I can assess them with a fresh eye and remember precisely what plot points I planned.
Finding those manuscript notes was the best gift that I have received for a very long time, and I couldn’t me more tickled to have them back. I suspect I’m not alone in having misplaced writing notes (or, god forbid, entire drafts). Any commiseration will make feel less silly about losing them in the first place, so feel free to share similar tales of woe.