My best friend and I have a running joke about my “writing archives” and how I’m leaving it up to her to figure out what to do with them. Don’t forget about the Twitter and the blog and the ebooks while you’re at it, Bestie.
(Or did we decide that the digital stuff was Jessi’s job? I don’t remember.)
She once noted: We need to figure out a way to retrieve your text messages, too.
Me: So future folks can see the GIFS I used?
I have a storage box with old writing things in it–which I pretentiously call my archives–so let’s examine what I have in said box (and maybe how an archive would actually preserve these things).
So, one. The box I keep my stuff in is clearly not archival. It is not acid-free. It doesn’t have a top!
But anyway, as you can see, my 2010 NaNoWriMo Winner’s Certificate is on top. I won that NaNo by writing 50,000 words of a Tudors historical story that went nowhere.
Let’s go roughly in chronological order because things are just stacked in that box and there’s no real “original order” to archive this stuff in 🙂
This is my very 90s Lisa Frank folder, labeled “Randomness,” because let’s face it, that word pretty much characterizes my entire Aquarian personality. There are looseleaf stories I wrote in elementary school in there. Looseleaf is pretty acidic as far as paper goes, so some of it is already pretty yellowed. I think my Interview With the Vampire rip-off story is in this folder.
Also living in this folder is my masterpiece, “I Survived The Titanic,” from 1998. It’s five pages long, but it was one of the first pieces I remember finishing and printing out, which was a big deal back then. I went through a protracted Titanic phase.
The burning resentment I feel for Jo and Laurie not getting together in Little Women (which yes, I still have burning anger about that and I read that book when I was about 11, so clearly, I was meant to be a romance reader) has nothing on my insistence that Rose could’ve moved over on the damn door and made room for Jack.
These notebooks are from middle school. The mottled ones have a story about a family being murdered (the purple one) and very bad song lyrics (the green). Junior high is when my depression really hit hard and when I first found out what the heck depression was. I even wrote a poem (I wonder if it’s in here somewhere?) called “Depression” for 8th grade English that was really damn good–something about falling into a hole from which you can never escape–because I was clincally depressed, though not diagnosed yet.
The other notebooks below have a story about a family during the Great Depression in Kentucky, for some reason. I might’ve gotten into a wartime love story phase at the time? I don’t know.
Now, obviously, notebooks like these aren’t very durable.
I doubt the paper quality is all that stellar. Plus, everything’s handwritten in them and good luck trying to figure out my handwriting from back then. Also, I wrote in pencil for some of the time, I guess. I doubt the stories were good–and I don’t remember if I finished them, to be honest. I think we can consider them more interesting portions of Juvenilia, in terms of subject matter.
This little pamphlet was my first assignment in college. Those scribbles are notes I took to formulate a thesis for an essay based on The Iliad and the documentary The Fog of War. Mind you, my roommate did not have to do this essay even though everyone was supposed to because she was a performing arts major.
This giant binder is full of stuff from mostly college, maybe a little after college as well. Since they’re in plastic sleeves, they’re not badly kept, though putting them in acid-free folders would be better.
On the left is a draft of Book The First, which was the last gasp of stuff I was writing in the style of college, I guess. This one has Track Changes comments from a friend. It’s from 2009. The manuscript on the left with the blue scribbles is a draft of The Keegan stories mess, which later turned into Pearl.
This is draft 2.5 of Last Request, a story I worked on in about 2011ish. My friends nicknamed it the “Paraweirdo Story.” I…don’t know what that weird tongue-out smiley face on that page indicates.
The highlighted manuscript is a different draft of Last Request, where the highlighting had something to do with a revision process I was trying out at the time, since I realized I didn’t know how to revise an entire book omg. It involved highlighting or underlining different things, such as narrative, action, dialogue, emotions in different colors.
This is a different draft of The Keegan mess from 2012. At least I dated it this time.
I have other little notebooks in the box with notes and plans from other story ideas, such as the Victorian story idea, the Broadway contemporary story ideas. But those are ideas that’ll stew and develop and I may go back to them at some point, so while they’re in the box to keep them in one place, I don’t consider those ancient writing history.
And there are also things not in the box yet, like my journals from high school and college, the little notepad I carry around with me, and the notebook I have notes in for the FrankenIdea–the notebooks are in use and the journals are elsewhere.
Oh, and of course:
…lives in the box as well.
But basically, for paper, the archival thing to do is make sure they’re on or can be copied onto, acid-free paper. Acid-free paper deteriorates more slowly than regular paper, which is usually made with chemicals and pulp, which contain acid. The acid is what causes paper to weaken and deteriorate over time, causing it to break or become yellow.
Then the papers can be put into acid-free folders or boxes for even more safekeeping, preferably in a humidity and temperature-controlled room.