Mining for Words

I recently revisited a long piece I wrote almost a decade ago. In my mind, this piece was a novelty, a learning experience, an ‘awkward first date’ of a story. ‘Our noses bumped when our braces locked, making me sneeze a booger onto her face’ type awkward. I don’t know what prompted me to look it up after all these years. Nostalgia? Masochism? Boredom? Anyway, I did. And I was very surprised at what I found.

It didn’t suck. Not only did it not suck, I really liked it. The writing was good and crisp. A little different than the way I write now, but not as much as I would have thought. The plot holes and forced patches that I remembered were not there. I decided it deserved to live. So, I am bringing it back to life.

Part of the reason I am writing this post is because it is due, I got nothing else, and Hise will put the testicular clamp on for the weekend if I don’t…that’s most of the reason, actually. OK, that’s the whole reason. I should be writing weird freelance shit that feeds my family, but that’s cool – I’ll do this (hold on, the little one is trying to eat paint chips again).  She gets hungry – so cute.

Part of the reason I am writing this is because if you had asked me last week about this piece, I would have laughed that kind of embarrassed ‘yeah, I know I have vomit on my shirt’ laugh and tried to change the subject. Hell, there have been numerous times I’ve  considered erasing it from my computer. I’m very glad I didn’t.

Not only do I get to avoid playing ‘spank the nurse-maid’ with Hise, but I have a CRAPLOAD of words to mess with. Over 50K. Let’s just put it like that. I’m word wealthy. If my daughter could eat words, she might be in the ‘healthy’ category for her age/size/weight. But hey, her little ribs are cute. And I’m hoping this will help us avoid an eating disorder later on.  But I impress, I have all these words to play with – they are already written – I wrote them – they don’t suck!  Bonus!

So, I’ve got plans for these words. But I also went back through some REALLY old stuff. Like ‘before I had MS Word’ stuff. Some of it sucked. Some of it didn’t. There are a lot of ideas I want to revisit. There is some stuff I frankly have no recollection of writing (but as I have said before, if it’s on my computer, I must have written it).

The moral of the story is this. I don’t know about the rest of you (yes, I do, I have cameras…you disgust me), but I have this idea/obsession/mental problem that makes me feel like I have to be writing new stuff all the time. And I do, but the fact that I’ve been writing all the time since I was in my teens means that there is a LOT of raw material that never got polished, spit-shined, and put on display. There are a lot of nuggets in that there computer hole. So, I will keep writing, but I’m also gonna do a little historian thing (no, I’m not going to have sex with a small history professor who wears tweed skirts and drives a Volkswagen bug and has slate grey hair in a bun and…I would never even think about that, that’s my point). What I am going to do is look back through the Mader archives. I am going to separate the wheat from the chaff.  The chaff, I might dispose of. The wheat, I will use, or sell off at reasonable prices. Oh, I’ll gouge a little.

Maybe it’s worth a look back at your own mine. Sure, the walls might collapse, the mine might cave in, and you might die with your bones crushed by flowery metaphors and stylistic missteps. But you might emerge, bloodied and broken, with something you can use.  And isn’t that what this is all about?

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JD Mader is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novels JOE CAFÉ and THE BIKER. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his


Author: JD Mader

JD Mader is an award winning short story writer and novelist. 'Joe Café' and 'The Biker' are out now, as well as 'Please, no eyes'. and the collaborative 'Bad Book'. Mader has been writing for half his life and has no plans on stopping any time soon. Learn more about JD Mader at his blog and his Amazon author page.

30 thoughts on “Mining for Words”

  1. Thanks, Dan. Backlog? My closet is full. Heck, I have one backed up on a floppy disk. In WordPerfect. I'm always torn between mining the backlog and writing new. Thing is, the backlog WILL be new. I'm not the same person I was when I wrote that 110K doorstop that helped me discover I could actually write novels. It won't be the same book when I tear the chaff from the wheat. Thank you for reminding me.

    1. Yeah, that's what I found. I'm not sure if I could write the same book again. But that might be cool…worth checking out for sure.

  2. My old stuff is commentary on economic indicators, and I actually made it interesting! All right maybe only if you're an economics geek like me. Anyone want to read some?

  3. Yeah, I'm with Laurie. I have 40 years worth of notes and scraps of paper and restaurant napkins and notebooks…and on 5.25" floppy disks and even on an Adam tape! Some of that stuff would take more work to edit than just throwing it away and starting over. But it's good to know it's there in case the voices ever stop talking to me. 🙂

  4. I'm glad I didn't keep my "old" writing from my 20s and 30s because most of it was self-conscious, ridiculously self-involved crap. I just couldn't get out of my way back then.

    I hear what you are saying about mining for words though. I have quite a few scenes I've written over the last year because I wanted to write SOMETHING but I was too tired to pay attention to the current piece I'm writing. I've gone back and looked at those – they aren't bad and occasionally there is a pretty darn good turn of phrase or word combination. It's only a year's worth but it's something.

        1. I still have a story I wrote in the equivalent of eighth or ninth grade. It reads like a weird hybrid of Bradbury and Yes lyrics, lol. "Mountains come out of the sea, and the carmine winds blew warm and soft into the Martian night…"

  5. good post Mader, I pretty much think most of my old stuff is crap. When I don't have anything else to do, maybe I'll resurrect. Doubt it though.

    Hey Jo-Anne, what form did you write in back in the 1920's and 1930's, charcoal and slate? We're you using a quill?

    1. Cheek!!!! I'll tell you what I used, Jim, I plucked hair out of mean boys' head and dipped it in squid ink! 😛 I would suggest you start wearing a tam because I'll be visiting you soon! I'd say lol here but JD would probably punch you for it!

      1. I am sending a virtual chicken dinner. Feed that child.

        I have 3 ideas for my next post, but no words written. This may be bad. I'm scared.

        I can't wait to see what you pull out of your … computer files.

  6. hey – you stole my idea –

    I have been mining my little journals for years. Just yesterday I did a last edit on my first novel and I self-published it. It didn't suck.

    Funny that –


    1. I stole nothing! 😉 Journals. For a writer I have kept an amazingly few number of journals (0). I feel a bit shabby about that.

      1. And you call yourself a writer – lol

        Well, I had a tussle with my mother because when I went into the Navy she stored my journals from my childhood to my twenties. Now she thinks they belong to her. SNORT

        No, I can't get them back. She is one of those hoarders. Although if you see my apartment, you'll think I'm a hoarder. But, she has two trailers behind her house filled with stuff.

        oh yea – got me started lol

        I used to write one to three pages a day (Wild mind type stuff) to get lubricated for the work. Now I just write on the computer. Anything goes.


  7. Good grief, I have notebooks full of crap from my teenage years. From the goth poems that ran the likes of:

    "… mangled metal, shattered glass, the car was on fire, peace at last…"

    There's even a 40k Star Trek fan fiction story on floppy from my first word processor.

    While there are a few nuggets of coal in the pile that could possibly be brought to life, there's nothing diamond worthy without extensive work to make it presentable. In fact, most of my tweets are better.


    If you have plans to gather the stories up and put them in a book though, I'll be the first in line.

    1. KD, I am in love with “… mangled metal, shattered glass, the car was on fire, peace at last…” !! I think JD needs to set those words to his music – the two of you could do the video…dreamy!

      I agree with your comment about Dan's stories in a book. I'd be jostling you at the front of that line too. 🙂

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