By Thonie Hevron
This topic has been front and center in my life recently. Several months ago, my husband and I put our home up for sale. My sister was our realtor and never shy about telling me what to do, she cautioned about leaving my jewelry out, shutting my drawers and closing the toilet lid.
Okay, I get it. No sense tempting fate by leaving something attractive on my dresser so I packed them up and put them away. I’ve always been a tidy person but the idea of a stranger looking in an open drawer gives me the creeps. So, anytime I left the house, I closed all the drawers, cupboards, and closets. The toilet lid is self-explanatory.
Then came the task of packing. I sorted: Goodwill, garbage and library donations. We carted boxes and bags of stuff to “someplace else” for
weeks. I sorted again: what do I need for the next month? What can I pack now? Then I sorted some more: what do I need for the next two weeks?
It’s been six weeks since we moved in and I must say, we’ve been productive. The last two weeks before we moved and the first three weeks we were in our new place, I didn’t write. It was tough, no doubt about it. And busy as I was, I was able to ponder some of life’s analogies. Like moving, purging things, re-locating items I couldn’t live without ten years ago but only get in the way now.
During this time I got a call from a dear cousin who wanted me to peruse his manuscript. He’d had others look at it but their criticism wasn’t as constructive as he’d hoped. I was honored and I made the commitment to read and critique his work. Despite two moved up deadlines (I set for myself), I finished up last night. This morning, I mailed off a box packaged up with a pamphlet on “10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Writing,” a reference book on writing mysteries, two pages of editing ideas, a promise to help in his future endeavor and a well-inked manuscript. I purged of some of my beginning writer boo-boos and shared them with another author.
I confess to a feeling of relief that my task was done but it was satisfying nonetheless to be able to pass that book and pamphlet along with my suggestions. I hadn’t really purged that book because it was important enough to move. Now it was important enough to pass on to another author. The purge here was more than just one book.
When our house was on the market, my husband and I always left—went for a walk or ran errands. I couldn’t be around to overhear things like, “We can always paint over it.” This is a circuitous way of illustrating that I feel strongly that no one wants my advice unless they ask for it. Hang on if you ask for it. That could certainly be considered a “purge.”
Now, my home library is stocked with the most pertinent reference volumes, my living space has only the things I love to look at and I feel like I’ve turned a corner in my writing career. No doubt there will be many more corners to turn but I particularly like this one.
We’ve only put two houses up for sale–neither sold. First house we owned and tried to sell, we ended up selling to one of our kids. We tried selling the one we live in back when it was still a care home–no takers, so we’re still here. Would love to start purging now–but hubby can’t stand to part with anything, even my things. What a nightmare we’ll be leaving for our kids.
Marilyn, I’ve been on the receiving end of that and it’s a burden but one all us kids did with lots of love and humor.
Thoughtful post, Thonie. We moved a lot, mostly to and from rentals, flooded twice, absorbed my son and family and their things, remodeled and now overhauling the kitchen. So much “stuff” to get rid of, rearrange or linger over. The impact on the writing hiccupped along the way as you so eloquently put it. Thank you!
Stuff is a metaphor for so much more than “things,” the more I ponder this post.