One of the things I do from time to time is to cull my photograph collection. At one time I believed that if I took the photo, I needed to keep the evidence of each photo. Back then, I used film which resulted in negatives, both black and white and colour negatives. It only made sense as I stored the negatives in protective pages, usually five or six negatives per strip. For B&W photos, I printed off contact sheets which were placed along with each negative page. Printing photos was done on a very selective basis. Of course since printing photos was relatively expensive, I only wanted to print my best photos. Of course, pictures are stories, naturist pictures are naturist stories. And yes, I have a number of these in my archives going back almost 50 years.
Now in the age of digital photography, with me getting my first digital camera in the late 90s, I carried on with my archival habits, printing out only those images that I felt were needed. The rest were stored on hard drives, CDs, and DVDs. Today, well recently to be more exact, I have been wondering why I keep all this photographic evidence. As a result, I find myself deleting bad photos, or narrowing down a dozen of one scene to the best two or three. Should I feel guilty for erasing photo history? I mean, who is ever going to carefully pour over a 100,000+ photos that still remain? And if there is such a person, why would he or she make that effort?All of this above was written to make us think about what we save and what we discard in terms of photos.
All of the above is a preamble to writing, writing Naturist Fiction in particular. When it comes to my writing, I am of a different mind. For example, I often go through my Tweets and FB posts to delete stuff that simply collects in the archives. Both Twitter and FB are social media platforms that are mostly about “the now.” I have little interest in reading through the Tweet archives of anyone: family, friends, neighbours, enemies, etc. The only exception is to verify if I want to allow a certain individual to continue being a follower/friend on either Twitter or FB, or to make decisions on whether or not to follow someone otherwise unknown to me. For me, my personal archives on either platform become more valuable if I curate the archives, somewhat like I am now curating my photography collection.
But what about my creative efforts? Am I as discerning? Looking at my document archives, I have to admit that I am loathe to let anything disappear. Yet, much of what has been saved, is often in multiple formats and multiple versions. Ask any writer and you will learn that even with just one book, the number of saved versions becomes sometimes ridiculous – novel, novel1, novel1a, and so on until a brainwave has the writer return to the novel with some major changes such as from 1st person to 3rd person, or the addition of another antagonist or conflict, which results in new saved versions. I am guilty as charged. I pity anyone who would ever have to go through my document archives in some future time when I have transitioned to another life form [I am hoping to be an eagle and my wife hopes to be a dove].
Is there any value to keeping all of these documents? I do understand keeping the final versions, or editions of a book. Having made changes in my first Naturist Novel, A Small Company of Pilgrims, twice since the original publishing, I have print copies of these changes and an electronic version of each of these as well. Why would I keep all the versions and partials that never made it to publication? Should I? And if so, why?
One of my works-in-progress is now in its third year of development. I have begun a fourth new approach to what I will say is the same story. Since I have no idea if this latest approach will be “the” way the story will be ending up, I dare not risk culling the previous attempts. This makes sense to me, whereas for those books that are finished, I am itching to begin the culling process. Think of writing in the past where it all was committed to paper. How many versions met a fate in the fireplace or the cook stove?