On Writing

Before & After – The goodness in purging

Long weekend equals tackle the storage room. At least, that’s what it equalled for me. Sure we had a bojillion other things to do this weekend, but I had to use  some of the time to deal with this:

This is one half of our storage room. As you can see, there is a lovely shelving unit jam packed with too much stuff that I can’t tell what’s what. Somewhere in that mess are things that I need for my writing sanity.

Here’s the other half:

What you can’t see in this photo is that to the left of the hanging photo is more storage – plastic bins full of stuff that hasn’t been touched in a very.long.time. Yikes.

I was determined to organize, go through, purge and re-organize. Oh, and decorate, of course. Now, I didn’t have a budget really, so I had to use my imagination to get this room changed, and worth entering and using for something as sacred as housing my writing things.

For less than a hundred bucks, I bought some curtains, some cool things to hang them with (even though I ended up using ribbon that I already had), and some storage baskets. Thank you, JYSK.

On Friday afternoon I started the organizing of the junk. I moved stuff around. Threw out stuff we that was old and unusable or not donate-able. I pushed stuff back in the corner that I knew we wouldn’t need in any type of quickness.

I found thirteen plastic containers (in various sizes) of my writing. At least, that’s what the labels on the bins said. Holy hell, was that every scary. I’ve been lugging these bins around since I moved out of my mom’s  house…actually, since I started putting my writing in bins when I was in high school. We’re talkin’ well over ten years of writing that I’ve been storing.

My first order of business was to cover the hideous walls and try and get a handle on the wires/piping. Curtains to the rescue! My second order of business was putting shelving together, cleaning them, and re-organizing the one shelf already in the room.

By some miracle, I managed to do all that by Friday night. Phew. Saturday and Sunday were write-offs. Time was spent with family and friends. Monday morning rolled around and my determination to complete the storage room transformation was in full gear.

Everything was prepped – the shelves were cleaned, the floor was swept, the walls were covered. I had only (only!) to go through the bins. I found things I’d written in grade nine. Grade nine! Papers from Writer’s Craft in OAC. Papers from classes in university. Both hand-written and typed, I went on a word train back in time as I sifted and sorted through the bins.

I threw writing out. Yes, I’ll admit. I didn’t need 17 copies of the same poem. I didn’t need keep everything. I was ready to throw it out, and if there was no tug on my heart strings for a piece, then it went in the garbage. I was mentally prepared for this purging. It felt invigorating and much needed. I found lots of good writing that I can (and will) revisit in the future.

In the end, here is what the space looks like:

See the hanging curtains and fun stuff I hung in front including the postcards I’ve made for each class I’ve taught, artwork, etc..

This was a shelf full of mess. Now it’s all organized and labelled.

This is one to two new shelves I put together. After a quick wipe down, it became the ‘supply’ shelf. Now I can see what I have left in stock to use for classes and at literary events.

This is the other shelf. It has all the things I use for each class I teach. From syllabi (?) to class notes to Poetry On Demand writing pads, everything is clearly labelled and easy to access.

I even found the heels I wore on my wedding day, almost 10 years ago! Can you see them?! I just had to put them on display!

There is goodness in purging. There is relief in sorting and sifting – for the sorting and sifting also happens in the body and the mind – as well as in the bins!

I have three big bins to go through still. I need another two hour block of time. I’ll find it. I’ll get through them. For now, I feel great.

How has this affected my writing? Well, it’s cleared up physical space in my basement for me to organize the tools I use to teach writing, and it has helped me clear my mind – the part in the way back – of the ‘must deal with list’ in a very massive way.

How does organizing, re-organizing and purging affect your writing life?

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