I found half a dozen three-ring binders full of un-submitted (and therefore unpublished) stuff I’ve written. My desk had become a landfill and was covered in things like socks, extension cords, and a never-ending pile of paper. When we set up my new office, which is really a desk in the corner of the guest room, we had to clean off my desk to move it. I hadn’t realized the body of work that’d piled up over the years as I worked other jobs and wrote at random times, like midnight on a sleepless Wednesday. Hundreds of pages of essays, short stories, the beginning of a novel and the entire outline for a different novel— all this stuff was in those binders. I wasn’t sure if I should rejoice or panic. I wondered when I’d ever have time to edit and submit any of it and felt briefly paralyzed as I stared at the dust-covered binders. Then I opened one, found a short story that I’d written by hand, and opened my laptop to transcribe it. As with most freak-outs, the best way to move forward is to take action. I still have no idea when I’ll have time to work on all that writing, but at least now all of it’s in computer file form instead of chicken-scratched on wide rule notebook paper.
I don’t have a good explanation for why I built up a massive quantity of work and submitted none of it. A few excuses come to mind, but they don’t hold much water. I was busy writing for money and didn’t have time to edit or find homes for my unsolicited creative work. I was busy teaching at the community college. I was busy working my outpatient job. I was busy— of course I was busy! Isn’t everybody? Dumb reason to let all that work sit idle. I swear, one of these days I’ll be “busy” going after publication of that stuff.