Monday, June 24, 2013


What do you do with your leftovers?

In my house we relish a repeat of a delicious meal or a second opportunity to enjoy a favorite food eaten in a restaurant  the day before.

An extra crab cake.  
Three remaining shrimp in a wonderful cream sauce.
The delicious seafood Cobb salad I just ate from yesterday's meal at the Ocean Club.

Sometimes I intentionally divide the food on my plate when in a restaurant  so I can again savor  the dining experience the following day..

In my house, we tease each other, saying that we may eat the contents of the other's precious take-home box. Your shrimp may not be here when you get home, we say.
Warmed up dishes tend to taste better-- like spaghetti-- the sauce has soaked in and permeated the entire dish  with extra goodness.

When I was in college nothing was better than cold pizza leftover from the night before.


I am always surprised when I hear folks say they don't like or don't eat leftovers. They cook something brand new each day, creating a fresh dish for every meal.  

My husband won't eat leftovers, they say. My children won't eat food from the day before.  

They do not save the food from today.  

I have some definite opinions on that practice.  
But that is another post altogether.

Leftover food....

But what do we do with leftover writing?

I mean the stuff we cut out of the pieces we write.

Deleted words and  phrases--  sentences we have rewritten.   Paragraphs we cut from a piece-- for clarity, or style--for whatever reason.

Where do we put these scraps of words and what we you do 
with them?

I keep larger chunks of salvaged writing--not wanting to lose the time and thinking that went into creating what seemed like the right phrase or sequence or image,  even if it didn't work in the piece for which it was created.  

I don't save everything 

I don't keep every deleted word, line or idea.
But... sometimes I just like a sentence or a phrase---the way it sounds, the rhythm is seems to suggest, or an undiscovered potential lurking under the words..

Can I use these words again or that line?

Snippets can sometimes go into other pieces---or become pieces on their own.

Hi. My name is Robin and I am a bibliophile.  I confess that I have always been one.
This was the original  lead of an article I wrote that was published in the Columbus Dispatch,  Books to Tempting for Her to Resist  (First Person Column, December 27, 2008)

As I shared the essay in draft form with several trusted colleagues, the unanimous suggestion was to eliminate these lines.  I was, on the other hand, attached and committed to them, and despite  sage advice, submitted the piece with this line in tact. I think I did delete Hi.

The editor, or course, agreed with all of my kind writing colleagues and strongly suggested omitting  this unnecessary  bit.

I still keep these words though---perhaps, minus hi, they can become a poem, an essay,  or a novel.

 Several years ago I wrote a rather lengthy piece,  Why Tamu Can Not Swim:
The Historical Sociology (And Politics) of Little Black Girls and Their Hair, that I eventually turned into a Movie Maker Movie.  

Because of the length, I deleted anything that did not deal directly with hair.  This section on hats  and head coverings  fell victim to the revision knife. 

Covering our Hair

All little black girls who have grown up to be black women know            also the secret of covering their hair andCrowning their beauty with hats—like the church ladies
Crowned with wraps and geles and scarfs and hijabsAnd even contemporary ball capsHinting at the hidden glory that Paul
and the church ladies want us to hide.

At some point, perhaps this can become its own larger piece of writing. 

As I struggled persistently to write about the process and implications of retiring-- trying to explore and define this transition period, I gathered  a whole set of notes. 

After I finally  wrote two poems and a related blog post about retirement--there were notes that were left over--that may never be used, but still remain on my computer. Every now and then I  revisit these, searching for ideas to re-purpose.                      .

There are folders of deleted paragraphs and entire prompts that were deleted for various reasons from my book.

Sometimes I dig out one of these or part of one to use for a presentation or writing exercise.


So what do we do with leftover food?
We create hash, soup, casseroles.

I use left over turkey or beef to make hash served over toast or biscuits.

I use leftover chicken  to make a spicy, Caribbean black bean soup or fried rice or salad for a quick  lunch.

What kind of wonderful soup or casserole can we cook  up with our leftover chunks of writing?

What wonderful new dish can we create?

What do you do with you leftover writing?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Select a piece of writing that you  have deleted from a longer piece.

How can you  use this deleted writing?  
Can you use it as a first line for a new poem or essay?
Can you end an unfinished piece with a section of deleted text ?

Write an essay about how you delete lines, sentences, or paragraphs and how these excised words can be repurposed.


  1. Great post! I actually never thought about saving deleted lines and paragraphs, but now I feel like I should start!

  2. I see an entire Meat Toast post based on deleted chunks :-)