A Visit To The Archives!

Yesterday I went through my old writing archive. ‘What’s that?’ you might wonder – and more importantly, why would I even have one?
Well, to give you an idea, like most writers today I create my stories and edit and format them on a PC. In fact, since I started writing on a PC back in 2003, life has been much easier for me as a writer – not to mention lighter! Of course it wasn’t always this way – before that, I used to do it the old-fashioned way, with paper and a pen – lots and lots of paper as it turns out!
I used to scribble notes to myself about quick story ideas, funny quips or cool ideas on odd little bits of paper so I wouldn’t forget them, then later add some more ideas to it – in the form of more bits of paper of course – and perhaps even add a story plan… or two! If I was feeling particularly creative that day, I might also have added a couple of sketches, maybe a map or technical drawings – and so on! Naturally, since I started writing when I was very young, around seven – and I did a lot of writing even before I switched over to doing it on PC’s – this means I generated a lot of writing-related material between 1980 and 2003!

So… back to those lever-arch files I mentioned earlier… they’re filled with written drafts, notes, story plans, maps, layouts, technical sketches –  a treasure trove of story material, used and even a measure of unused – history lurking in the darkest corner of my archive!

Most of these files are filled to capacity, with some running into multiple volumes per subject! To give you an idea, the general writing file has 3 volumes – volume 1 contains all story drafts and notes for items between 1980 and 1990; volume 2 contains the same from 1990 to 2003 and volume 3 contains 1-act play drafts, poetry, non-fiction material and Afrikaans compositions!

As far as files for published novels are concerned, there’s a file each for “Best Served Cold”, “Blachart” (which has an incredible TWO whole volumes of material just for that one book!) – and in contrast, “Demonspawn” and “Dead Beckoning” both share a file since “Dead Beckoning” was created on PC during 2014 (and revised later) and I only had a short bundle of written notes which I worked from! There are additional files for several more unpublished titles that I still work on (on the PC) from time to time, but which originate as far back as the early 1990’s – as well as more files filled with unrelated reference material! Each file has an index/contents page at the front to help me find something either used or unused.
Some of you might be scratching your heads wondering why I keep all this stuff? I mean, most of these books have been published already, so why keep it? Truth is, most of them haven’t actually been published yet – a few have, but there are scores of new ones I haven’t finished yet that I first thought of back in my teens and developed during my early twenties lurking inside these files! Between them, there’s still plenty of material I haven’t used yet – which brings me to why I was visiting the archive! You see, I was looking for something to use in a new project!
Anyway, there you have it – my writing archive! I’m not sure how other writers manage their writing archives, but this is how I do it!
The best part about the way we do things now – using PC’s – means I no longer have to use the old fashioned paper trail method! Fortunately, this archive will no longer grow since now its all digital – which is an archive all on its own – on a hard drive  or two – but it’s still useful to keep around! Besides, who knows – someday it might be worth something 😉

If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2020.

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