The value of clippings

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.

Is this really necessary any more?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.