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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Things we can control

I went through my massive collection of beads and findings recently, sending out gifts to several people.  Today, I updated and printed out my book list and I'll do the same for my music list here in a bit.  I have a couple of needlework patterns I need to put away in my ring binders. 

Does it sound like I'm anal-retentive?  Which BTW, I've been told is hyphenated when used as an adverb.  Not really.  It's just that there are things I can control in my life and I find comfort from that.  When my husband and I were excavating (correct choice of word) the boxes of @#%& in the office to organize things, I had to force myself to NOT micro-organize every little bag of embroidery floss.  It was important at that time to get the larger problems solved (clean out that corner, pack bag of things to donate, recycle paper and cardboard, throw pictures in box to organize later) and get it done, while I had help. 

You see, I'm the daughter of two pack rats, married to a pack rat.  These past few years, I've forced myself to get rid of things, even when it kills me.  I had to do it at work, when I moved offices and by golly, threw away three huge trash bins of old workbooks, meeting notes and assorted junk.  I had to do it, when I sold Mom and Dad's house.  I promised myself I would not channel Dad and keep every single twist tie, plastic utensil and margarine tub ever.  Also, I promised myself I would go through my canned goods regularly and not keep anything that hissed when moved (the umpty-ump cans of pork & beans on the shelves on his back porch) or clanked when it shouldn't (the can of pumpkin Dad used as a rhythm instrument). 

Digital photography, scanners and flash drives have simplified my life also.  I'm truly blessed that my parents had a ton of pictures, but I can get rid of the ones that are out of focus or don't have anyone recognizable in them.  If a tragic fire happened, I have the family pictures in a fire safe and copies with several relatives. 

So, in my writing, editing and character design, I am desperately trying to do the same.  Yeah, I did a good job crafting that paragraph, but my novel is over 550 pages, so it gets cut.  I did save it in a file where it may be used elsewhere, in another form.  When I changed from 3rd person to 1st person, I hugely simplified my writing and cut over 100 pages (yes, my original draft was over 700 pages!).  It was a relief to get rid of some awkward sentence construction and let my characters tell their stories in their own words. 

But, there comes a time when I find things I can't cut or get rid of.  I put that in a scene in my second novel in the series, where the middle daughter, Mary Margaret, digs a ring box out of the trash to keep.  The hero, Rob, starts to make fun of her, then realizes it wasn't just a ring box, it was a memory.  On one of the organizational shows, the host was talking about not being able to honor your possessions and memories, if they can't be displayed or enjoyed. 

I can control what I keep.  I will have these memories and representative things that I can find fairly quickly, if I need to.  I will not end up on "Hoarders" or its ilk.  Any brothers or sisters out there who will give an "Amen"?


  1. As a full-time single dad, money gets tight. My lease is ending on our 5 bedroom house and I’m bleeding cash I don’t have. My daycare costs are going up. These are realities of being a responsible dad. Faith and Hope keeps me going....

    help for single Dads

  2. Amen! I am looking forward to spring break and having a few days in which I can completely tear apart my house and garage. I am planning to get rid of tons of stuff, do some deep cleaning and painting, and reorganize my work spaces. It will be liberating! Your package was waiting for me when I got back from the writers conference; thank you for the beads and findings. I will put them to good use! And, yes, I would love to have a CD or your novel. I read a few more of the pages you already sent me over the weekend; I am looking forward to reading more!

  3. Excellent!
    @Pam-You're welcome and be sure to post pictures of your pretties. CD will be on its way sometime this week, I hope.
    @Dan--Faith and hope are sometimes all we have--remember to take care of yourself so that you can keep taking care of your loved ones. Best wishes for your future.