The image of a frustrated writer tossing sheet after sheet of crumpled paper into his waist bin is a familiar one, and it makes me cringe whenever I see it. No, dear writer, no! You hold onto those sheets!
I've sometimes wondered what the drawings that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec did on napkins and on tablecloths looked like. Apparently, one such drawing, done with a burnt matchstick, still exists. One.
Every once in a while, I'll go rifling through my "Box of Poetry" and review every scrap therein, hoping for ideas that I can use, and I often find inspiration among those latent, partially-formed notions.
Granted, I lost many of my scraps, as well as completed work, during various moves from house to house, else my box would have had to be a great deal larger. Now, I store my scraps on digital media ...
... which can have negative consequences, too. I used to carry an Apple iPod with me to quickly jot, and store, vignettes of thought. One day, my handy iPod broke. Alas, I hadn't backed it up yet.
So, I've learned to backup my data files, and to keep those sheets of notes even though I now have digital copies. As a writer, I cannot have too much stockpiled redundancy, save for corrupted files.
When I think about my lost bits and pieces that ended up who knows where, I feel that I can almost remember them, that they are only just out of my reach, and that they are simply beyond wonderful.
I might even go so far, one day, to seek out a hypnotist who will put me under his pendulum spell and have me recite all those words that went astray. For now, I make sure to keep every scrap of my scraps.