Decades of tear sheets of my printed stories and rejected manuscripts filled my filing cabinet to capacity, and I had to make decisions: what to keep, what to trash. At the first run-through I only trashed the stories without my byline. The second down-size eliminated uninteresting features.

The third was the “keep” file. These are perennials, the feature stories that are as fresh today as they were in the 1980s.

  • Domestic violence
  • Homelessness
  • Health care
  • Parenting and child care
  • Diversity
  • Retirement
  • People accomplishing feats and making lasting contributions

Where do you find perennials? Read newspapers and magazines.

I reduced my files to one expanding folder, a few unpublished short stories, one nonfiction manuscript and two full-length novel manuscripts. The filing cabinet was trashed as well, so these files found space in a closet. No more tear sheets. Everything is online now.



Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published an ebook, Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women, in February 2020 and Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers in May 2020. Now available is Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment giving the women the right to vote. Take a look at them at, and

  1. Cathy Jones says:

    Awesome, great advice.

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