I find a lot of interesting things on the beach. Some belong there, like this:
But sometimes I discover things that don’t belong (are you singing it? one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn’t the same…). Things like this:
The USB connector was rusted and full of sand, but after cleaning it up a little I popped it into my old beater don’t-care-if-this-flash-drive-wrecks-it-more laptop and discovered pictures of a family’s vacation and a single Word file. The Word file contained, among other things, a name and local address. I found the guy on Facebook (we have two mutual friends, it turns out…gotta love small towns), messaged him, and reunited him with his flash drive a short time later.
Sometimes when I’m writing I discover unexpected things, too–things about my characters, maybe, or even things about myself. And I think when these unexpected things appear, I should pay attention. Maybe they’re nothing, but then again, maybe they’re something–a new insight, a new truth, a portal to a richer story or a richer understanding of myself.
Do you ever surprise yourself when you’re writing? Are the unexpected things that turn up in your writing usually cut later, or do they turn out to be important?