Just posted this in the comments box over at Harriet, under Bhanu Kapil’s post “Dung & Glitter“
Writing is never wasted. I tell my students this, urging them to throw away a draft and start again…difficult to do, to trust. I have variously taken drafts and burned them, tore them into tiny shreds, let them go…the old drafts become the texture and resonances in the new. I have written this novel (now finished and out of my hands thankfully) at least three full times (I mean conceptually, structurally different), and each with multiple drafts. Those texts, like mulch, made the final version fuller, lusher.
Once I found a squirrel outside of my house in Toronto. It was spring. I was preparing my garden. I took it and buried it in a corner. I planted a kind of wildflower–can’t recall the name now, it’s like a long grass with small, pink, orchid-like flowers at the bends. In any case there was a fabulous peak where I buried the squirrel, almost half again as tall as the other areas, greener, lusher…
I think of writing like that.