I have a lot. I have a box of them this big, in no particular order. The other thing I do—you might be interested in—is once a year I print out all the notes, all the computer writing I've done. I keep them in a bound journal that is by year. So this one, for example, is 1999—and you'll see that a lot of times, when I work on the computer, I'll write a kind of journal, just sort of what's going on and what I'm thinking about, and working with stray pieces of poems that I've written down by hand.
I would just keep them in a box, I think, until the end of the year, and then bind them up into a notebook.
Yes, all the way back, and I think the reading and the note-taking part of it has gotten to be more dominant over the course of the time. These notebooks...[points to bookshelves full of notebooks] And there are probably about 10 others and the ones that fit in that shelf right there—that's about 4 years of worth. Prior to those, I was working with 5x8 cards, writing in long-hand. That just got too hard to keep track of (I had boxes of them and arranged alphabetically), but this is an improvement on that. It's more... It's something I could find and I'd index these so I could find my way around these books. In a way, the cards—they just got too many of them.
My office is filled with stacks of brown boxes, as you might remember. It's all a big mess and a big pile.
I print off a lot of things. There's a pile of drafts back here that in fact need to be moved to a box, but I haven't brought the new box up from the house. It takes me...usually a box will take two years to fill and then it goes into storage in the basement until somebody offers me enough money for it and then they can have all the boxes.
Somewhere, in those many boxes in the closet, in the basement, are drafts, work sheets—whatever you want to call them—versions of all of the books since Moon in a Mason Jar that sort of show that process, how that came about.
By the time I put stuff in boxes, that's pretty well committed to book. I'm not much interested in pulling things out. But that's one of the reasons why I have this tray down here—this wooden tray where things go in, then I'll bring another one of those manuscript boxes out. It usually holds 10 reams of paper. Before these things—this pile of thing—goes in to that box, I go through it poem by poem, or draft by draft. I don't organize them but I look for something—"Oh yeah, I forgot about this." Because sometimes it will be—I know it's on the computer somewhere but I don't even remember it.
It's in the boxes, in the boxes, in the boxes.