Cleaning Your Literary Wardrobe

1Every once a while I look into my wardrobe and think it’s time to sort it out. Not only put all the skirts together and put sweaters beside one another, but actually take out all the clothes, check if they still fit and try to remember when was the last time I actually wore them. I don’t like it as it requires parting with pieces I feel sentimal about, but never really wear or admitting that there’s no way I’m going to fit in that blouse again. And the jacket? I love it, but it really starts looking shabby… If you can’t relate, maybe you can imagine how unappealing this task can be.

But what I do love is cleaning my literary wardrobe: looking back at all the ideas I scribbled down years ago and inspecting the forever postponed works in progress. It’s not only a pleasant surprise of finding hidden gems I’ve forgotten, but also a decision whether anything is worth coming back to. Some texts are archived to be forgotten forever, but others get to be considered again, and kept for later. They will be perfect for these grim days every writer has sometimes when they feel out of fresh ideas.

Cleaning my literary wardrobe also helps me to notice the progress I’ve made and how my style changed. How it improved. Sometimes I even feel tempted to rewrite an old piece, fix the writing or try to tell the story from another point of view. Of course I have to feel strongly enough about the particular story to invest time in it, but it might be worth it on occasion. One of the stories that I found deep in my writing folder was “Kot na sznurku” (“The Leashed Cat”) – a story that after rewrites and fixes made it into an anthology. Few other texts still wait and I’m sure their time will come as well… unless one day I decide they go onto the “to be thrown away pile”.

There is also a novel idea and if I were to keep my clothing similies, I’d say this novel is like a “special ocassion outfit”. It’s there, in my wardrobe, and I look at it every once a while and think “it’s so nice”, but I still decide it’s not the time to write it yet. I know, I tried to write it two times already.

What about you? How does your literary wardrobe look like? Is it neat, with all the ideas sorted waiting for their turn? Or is it a mix of various genres and styles, of works in progress, skimpy outlines, and full-body texts that still need some plot work? Or maybe you open it only to stash another handful of ideas (I bet they need a bit of push by now), never really looking inside, because new inspirations just keep coming?


Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Myk Pilgrim

    Love the analogy of old clothes.
    I also have more than a few special occasion dresses that i’m waiting to find the matching shoes for.
    Had the chance while I was backing up my pc to see how much work i’ve really done over the last year and am dumbfounded by the quantity of good ideas and half moth eaten jumpers.
    Maybe it’s time to get in there with the Fabreeze and do a little winter cleaning.
    As always Jo – nice post! Looking forward to seeing what you you pull out of the cupboard this year.

    1. melfka

      Look at this guy! Takes my clothing metaphors and makes up new ones, even better :). But the analogy is there because I’m more likely to sort out my writing than I’m to sort out my wardrobe. Though to the amount of the projects I’m already working on, I’m reluctant to go back to check on the old stuff. Some of the old ideas are still alluring. But I’m sure I’m going to be revisiting them later this year – I’ve been writing recently quite a lot, so I might be done with some of the roadblockers.
      Another thought: isn’t it surprising that sometimes we really find something that makes us go “wow, I wrote this?!” I’m glad I’m not the only one to have such revelations ;).

    1. melfka

      Can I have all of the unused stuff from your wardrobe then? 😉

  2. Anachronist

    My real wardrobe is a nightmare. I try to clean it at least twice a year and every time it is a chore. My literally wardrobe is very modest, on the other hand. Usually I have plenty of ideas but few of them are developped into something tangible like a text. Still those which I manage to flesh out somehow are prized – never deleted, often washed, dusted and aired. I would compare them to a dragon’s hoard – they are gems, perhaps never used or needed but also something I would be loath to part with.

    1. melfka

      “Try to clean it at least twice a year”? Wow. I consider sorting it out twice a year. Just consider ;). And I think your writing wardrobe must be a beautiful sight. Like a super-expensive boutique display. One day you’ll open it, take one of the ideas and turn it into something that’ll stun everyone.

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