Friday, February 27, 2015

To Toss or Save???

I've been working my way through Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I almost always choose to read a book instead of clean or tidy anything, but Kondo's true passion (absolutely infectious) in this charming little guide inspired me to go through ALL of my stuff.

Step One: clothing. I had no problem tossing out old clothes, giving up a significant portion of my writing wardrobe (old, hole-y, but soft sweats).

Step Two: books. NOOOOOOO!!!!! I procrastinated this step for a couple of weeks, but now I love having space on my shelves for exciting new books. I really don't miss my old Russian language text books, out-dated writing industry books, really boring literary criticism. Or any of the other books that made me feel guilty for not wanting to read them.

Next I tackled Step Three. Papers.

Recycling manuals for appliances I no longer own felt great. Same for kiddie birthday party ideas that I'd cut out of magazines. I don't see any unicorn parties in my high school daughter's future. Old insurance policy papers? Out! This is easy!

But then I got to my writing papers.

Every short story I've ever written had its own file. Every novel I've written had its own file(s). Plus, hunky rubber-banded first drafts, second drafts, sixth drafts… My file drawers barely closed. My presentations had spilled into a different file cabinet: 30 (!) different talks in 30 (!) different folders.

All weekend I pretended that my home office didn't exist, and read a book I'd rediscovered in Step Two. On Monday I made myself face those overstuffed files.

The magazine market has changed dramatically since I first wrote all those short stories. Thankfully, so has my writing! Penning all those stories taught me about characters, plot, language--and the meaning of "ready for submission." I won't be sending any of them out again, so I simply saved one copy of each story and discarded its file, submission sheet, and other notes and correspondence. I do like to see how my writing has changed, and many of those stories reflect things from my daughters' childhood. But now they hang together in a "Retired Stories" folder in the back.

I tossed all but one copy of each unsold novel manuscript. Each is revised, so I don't need old marked up copies. I didn't need copies of queries to various editors and agents, many of whom are no longer working in the industry. I kept only the papers relevant to current submissions.

So many of the papers clogging my files aren't relevant to where I am right now in my writing career, so I recycled hundreds and hundreds of pages!

I realized while going through my presentations that they fall into four categories: generating ideas, nuts and bolts of writing, characters, and revision. I saved one handout from each talk.

I filled my giant recycling bin to the brim with my not-needed writing papers. Now I have space for all the new things I'll be creating and doing--and that feels exciting and, yes, a bit life-changing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Little Free Library Update

With the colder weather, I haven't been seeing much action at my Little Free Library, but a few Fridays ago I had my favorite "librarian" moment! 

Driving home from junior high drop-off, I saw two little girls in pajamas running down the street with books clutched to their chests. Aw! They've been to my library. A few minutes later, a car screeched to a halt outside my house, and a girl got out, leaving the car door swinging open. Book emergency! 

I figured the neighborhood elementary school must have been holding a Read-a-Thon. I even spotted the sporty boy who lives a few houses down choosing a novel.

Maybe some of these kids will turn into lifelong readers! Fingers crossed.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Blogging Elsewhere

Ack! I sure haven't been blogging here. I have good reasons--and I'm sure they'll show up in fiction someday. It'll be sort of like Jane Eyre, except with grannies in the basement. Egads things have been weird!

Thanks to peer pressure I've kept up at YA Outside the Lines, and here's my most recent post:

I will pressure myself to blog here regularly too!