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An Ode to Leftover Words

We’ve all been there: you’ve spent hours writing, and the words get left behind in the dust. You’ve spent days bending over your desk, carefully crafting the perfect paragraphs, and they become little more than sidelined sentences, existing only in the recycling bin. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good – they just don’t belong.


We don’t mind losing a word or two at times. Even deleting a couple of lines isn’t the worst thing in the world. But once we start leaving behind entire paragraphs and pages, our hearts hurt. We miss that ink, because we wrote it and it’s a part of who we are.


When we pen a poem and have to toss out a couplet; or type up a novel and let go of a chapter; the writing changes forever. And so do we. Even when it makes the final piece better, for its author, something will always be missing. And sometimes, it can be harder than we’re willing to admit to leave the words behind. Goodbyes are never easy, especially for artists, because we feel so much.


They’re the words that live alone in the first draft; those scribbled in haste upon pieces of paper that never see the light of day; those left in a Word document on your desktop that never gets opened again. And the truth is, they may not belong, but they deserve to be seen. Recognised. Appreciated. And never, ever, thrown away.


Those are your ideas. Your hard work. You penned your thoughts into something greater. And maybe they won’t make it to the next draft – or even the last draft – but they have an important role to play in the process of discovery and inspiration.


Ever had a lifesaver line? When you write little lines and forget about them, because they don’t make sense in the moment, they don’t seem essential. Months pass, and you find it again, while working on something else, and it's the perfect missing link. That’s the truth to the adage: leftovers really do taste better the next day, as long as you look after them.


Sometimes our lost words need to go through an entire lifecycle and turn green before we see them again. Because maybe they don’t belong here, in this moment, this piece, but they belong somewhere. Trust us on that, they'll always find their place. You may just need to guide them home.


And when it’s taking a little longer to figure out, when the sun begins to lower and the nights pass by in a blur of starlight and time, maybe you’ll discover that they served a different purpose after all. Maybe it’s alright if they're simply a blueprint for growth. Maybe it’s okay to hold them tightly to our chests despite all indicators that they don’t work – because maybe this is how we learn. This is how we grow. This is how we get it perfect on the next try.


We don’t become professional writers overnight, and we need those blueprints, those learning curves. And maybe some of your words really will never be used again, but those words can save you. Those words can grow you. As a matter of fact, those words make you.


So, this one’s for the half-thoughts, the lost lines, the forgotten paragraphs, the scribbled messes, and the first draft heroes – we'll never forget the sacrifices you made for us to become better writers. And better people, too.

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