What You Leave in the Trash Can

A couple of months ago, I started shredding my rough drafts before I took them out to be recycled. I’m not sure why, exactly, except for this vague uneasy totally paranoid feeling that maybe somebody might steal my latest, almost completed novel Killing Isaac and somehow manage to get it published before I do, with their name attached instead of mine.

 Absurd, right?

Well, about four weeks ago, a man around the neighborhood who is a recovering addict  asked me for a couple of dollars so he could take the bus to a friend’s house. 

He was telling me how he had just gotten released from jail (a D.U.I.) but he was getting his life straight when he suddenly said, “You’re a writer! I didn’t know that!”

“Yes, I am,” I replied, thinking maybe he had heard about The Confessional. But no, it wasn’t The Confessional he was talking about…

“I was looking through your recycling bin,” he said, “and I came across some pages from a story you were writing about the homeless in the Tenderloin.  I sat down and read the entire thing (some 200 pages). I really liked it, the way you connected religion and the homeless and that world. It was really interesting! I hope you weren’t throwing that story away because it was really good.”

I had numerous thoughts going through my head at that moment. I’m not at all worried about him stealing my novel and selling it to a publisher–but  the strongest thought in my head was that his praise of the novel was perhaps the strongest praise I might ever receive for it! Hey, he knows that world, better than I do. If he liked it, that says something about it.

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