Today I’m pleased to have Steven Verrier on Coffee and a Keyboard. Welcome Steven! -VL
Today is Saturday – garbage collection day. This morning I cleaned off one of the tables where I write, revise, and polish my work. Among the materials I threw out were some loose notes pertaining to my latest nonfiction book, Class Struggle: Journal of a Teacher In Up to His Ears.
Loose notes I can throw away, at least when I know I’m done with them. Experience tells me I’d probably lose them anyway, so there’s not much to be gained by hanging on to those scraps of paper. But when it comes to the used notebooks cluttering my work space and various other locations in the house … well, I don’t plan to give those up anytime soon.
Those notebooks contain rough drafts of my work. Nearly every first draft I’ve written is in longhand in a collection of notebooks you can find piled and scattered around my house. A few pages contain clean writing, but the majority contain so many revisions you’d be hard pressed to make much sense of them. In some places, page after page is crossed out, each with a big X over writing that would embarrass a novice. Believe me, there’s plenty in those notebooks I wouldn’t want you to see. I doubt you’d want to see them anyway. In fact, I seldom flip through any of those notebooks myself.
Why, then, do I insist on keeping them? After all, I have the final products, the published books, which are far superior to anything you’d find in the notebooks. I know some authors’ scribblings can eventually sell for a lot of money, but I’m not vain enough to count on that happening to me. And wouldn’t I have to be dead anyway?
So why, I repeat, am I so reluctant to toss out all those old notebooks? I’m not normally averse to tossing out an item that’s had its day. What’s so special about a musty green-, yellow-, or red-cover spiral notebook that I may never look through again?
I’ll tell you what it is. My books are my children. I gave birth to each one, and the labor was never easy. Each of my books, like each of my biological children, is different. Each one evolved over time. Those notebooks – those first drafts I’d probably pay you not to read – may look entirely different from the finished products, but then baby pictures of my children may not look much like what my kids have evolved into, either. And every parent knows you can never have too many baby pictures.
Steven Verrier, born in the United States and raised in Canada, has spent much of his adult life living and traveling abroad. He is the author of Raising a Child to be Bilingual and Bicultural, a prizewinning book published bilingually in Japan, and several short plays for the student market. His novels, Tough Love, Tender Heart and Plan B, were published in 2008 and 2010, and his recently-published nonfiction book, Class Struggle: Journal of a Teacher In Up to His Ears, is sure to raise eyebrows over the coming months. Currently Steven Verrier lives with his wife, Motoko, and their five children in San Antonio, Texas, and New Brunswick, Canada. You can visit his website at www.stevenverrier.com.