I feel a bit like the first person in Khalil Gibran’s story of The Gravedigger. It’s taken me years and years, but I am finally getting rid of boxes and boxes of my clippings, ie the articles I’ve had published.
This is not out of necessity, even though they do take up a fair bit of room in our loft. It’s just that I’ve decided I don’t need them any more, which made me think: why does anyone need to keep their clippings?
I think there are three main reasons.
First, it’s very useful to have copies of clippings you can send an editor you’re pitching. These days there is a good chance the article will be online, so in theory you don’t need a physical copy. However, I say “in theory” because there are downsides to relying on the online option, which I looked at in a previous article.
Second, it’s quite handy to be able to look through past clippings for ideas for fresh articles. I’ve been surprised – but kind of not surprised at the same time – to discover that articles I wrote 20 or more years ago would still be appropriate today, after a bit of a terminology update perhaps.
Third, boxes of clippings can be a source of pride, especially when, like many writers I suspect, it took a lot of work and disappointment to get the very first one.
Although I have told myself for a long time that one and two were the reasons I kept clippings all this time, if I’m honest I think it’s more to do with reason three.
Nothing wrong in being proud of one’s achievements, of course, but I no longer need to have a physical reminder of them.