When we moved 2,400 miles twice, my motto regarding our possessions is that we had to absolutely need them or love them and hopefully both. But now that we’ve settled into our village life after finding, renovating, and moving into our current home, it’s time to reassess what we own — and thankfully I now have the time to do it. (Yes, I am a fan of Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy.] I am also applying this to my writing, one book in specific, but I’ll get to that later in this post.
It began with the filing cabinet. I am starting our taxes and while looking for copies of last year’s, I realized how much crap I’ve dumped into this two-drawer cabinet Hank built for me a long time ago. So, I’m going through each file. Some of it, like tax documents going back a dozen years will be shredded, while I keep what’s more recent. I’ve heard three years, I’m doing five just to be on the safe side. The rest goes into the recycling bin.
Regarding papers, I am well aware I have boxes of old drafts of my novels in manila envelopes in our attic. I sincerely doubt anyone, including myself will want to read them. I will give the ones for my current unpublished novels a look to see if they are worth saving or contain something I could use.
Next on my list is clothing. When I look in my closet I find clothing I wore only when I tried them on at the second-hand store. They don’t fit my current lifestyle or taste, but maybe they will somebody else’s. Into the bag they are going.
Then there is my book collection. About twenty-five years ago I started collecting first editions of books that I love written by authors I admire. It started with regular visits to a second-hand bookstore, sadly no longer in existence, on my lunch hour. Then there were community sales like library fundraisers. When we traveled, I hit the local used bookstore. I never paid much. I found the best deals were in the places people didn’t value books — my biggest find was a very early edition of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in a Habitat for Humanity Store in New Mexico. Then, then there are what colleagues left on the free table where I worked. Of course, there are online bookstores, which enabled me to fill in my collections at moderate prices.
But recently I’ve decided it’s time to pare down this collection, keeping a much smaller ones of the books that are truly near and dear to me. I know better than to try selling them to a bookstore. I will do it myself online and perhaps make money.
My computer… soon I will be retiring this writing machine that I’ve had ten years and getting another. I’ve been diligently cleaning out files. Next, I will attempt that with photos.
And now that book. It’s the first one I tried to write. When I showed the opening to my first agent, he expressed more interest in another of my books. Ha. Both are still unpublished but I hope to change that. As I’ve mentioned before, The Swanson Shuffle was inspired by my experience living and working in a psychiatric halfway house, but it is definitely not a memoir. Now, I am doing the read-aloud function on my computer, finding words and paragraphs that are unnecessary, and in some cases adding a missing word. Since starting, I’ve trimmed a thousand words and I believe the novel is all the better for it.
ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: The five books in my Isabel Long Mystery Series are on display and for sale in our son, Zack’s Floodwater Brewing in Shelburne Falls, Mass., the village where we live. Hank built the display shelf, with shapes that allude to our village’s Bridge of Flowers. I am a lucky author.
LINKS: Curious about my books? You can get them in paperback and Kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Joan-Livingston/e/B01E1HKIDG