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View Full Version : An observation concerning getting rid of useless stuff



Matera the Mad
11-28-2010, 11:01 PM
After many years of living alone in the same house and entertaining too many great ideas about things I could do, I find an obvious similarity between editing and house-shoveling (it's not "house-cleaning" until there's room to swing a broom).

The first time around, even the second or third, one keeps a lot of things because they have some vague sentimental value, or might turn out to be useful after all, or...well, I'll think about this later.

Finally, the last straw snaps the camel's endurance. The word count must come down, the house must be made livable. If it isn't money, throw it out!

KTC
11-28-2010, 11:04 PM
EXCELLENT analogy! This should be in ROUNDTABLE. You made a great observation and those who do not shop in OP will not see it!

backslashbaby
11-28-2010, 11:10 PM
:ROFL:

After I travelled a lot within a few years, which was unusual for me, I kept having nightmares. I had to pack up the whole house -- fast -- to make a train, I think. Or something about the cops. Something you had to do, you see. (It was really about my bad back, as I was terrified about how I would carry it all, but still).

I got rid of a ton of stuff! I can find everything now :) I highly recommend it!

KTC
11-28-2010, 11:13 PM
About a year and a half ago I went through the whole house with the heart of a minimalist. You wouldn't believe how much I threw away or donated. I would estimate a truckload! It was great. After doing this I completely redecorated. I think it's time to do another sweep. It's amazing how quickly we accumulate things and look at them with sympathetic sentimental eyes! Stuff and WORDS.

Adam
11-28-2010, 11:16 PM
I'm moving to Canada in February, and will be condensing my worldly possessions to a couple of suitcases and some carry on.

I'd better not be THAT severe with my edits, though. :D

Matera the Mad
11-28-2010, 11:19 PM
The words are so much lighter to toss, and one is not limited to four bags a week :(

Adam
11-28-2010, 11:31 PM
Unfortunately you can't ebay the extra ones. ;)

Button
11-28-2010, 11:35 PM
I've moved at least 20 times since the age of 18. Sometimes across the city. Most often across the country.

My normal rule was if it didn't fit into my minivan, it didn't go with me. It's amazing how much you can whittle down to.

The more you have, the more you have to keep up with (and move around), so I've become very good at tossing.

Which I need to do again, even if I am not moving right this moment.

heyjude
11-28-2010, 11:55 PM
A guy was talking about this in church this morning. He's doing a thorough sweep-through of his house, selling stuff that he doesn't use and is valuable, and donating the money to help pay for surgery for a little girl whose family can't afford the bills.

So, to limp along with the analogy, maybe those extra words could go to another ms? :)

Matera the Mad
11-29-2010, 12:00 AM
ZOMG! I just unearthed my lost PDA!

BardSkye
11-29-2010, 01:10 AM
:scared:Clean up my junk? No, uh-uh, can't do that. If I got down to the floor I'd have to spend money on a new rug.

Besides, the dog needs a hoard to sleep on.


Yes, I know it's dragons that sleep on hoards. I couldn't find a dragon and had to settle for a dog, okay? :tongue

scarletpeaches
11-29-2010, 03:43 AM
Meh.

I edit entire books within a fortnight, in one pass, and sell them.

When it comes to cleaning my house, I'm a minimalist. I don't like clutter. That shows in my writing life as well.

Every so often I look for shit to throw out. I'm definitely not a hoarder. So I don't get precious about editing my Golden Words, either.

If they don't serve the story, or if a possession doesn't serve my life, they are/it is gone.

MaryMumsy
11-29-2010, 05:17 AM
I have lived in the same house for 35 years. There have been a couple of half hearted attempts at yard sales and donations to charity, but the crap just keeps piling up. This summer I had to clean out the house of a client who had died. Small house (1300 sq ft), mine is more than twice as large. It was a huge task. Hubby and I have decided to pretend we are moving, and one room at a time get rid of all that stuff. I need to learn how to ebay. Some stuff would be worth money. Other stuff only a thrift shop shopper would love. None of it is useless, only useless to me (and in some cases useless for 30 yrs).

MM

scarletpeaches
11-29-2010, 05:20 AM
I've had people walk in my house and ask, "Where's all your stuff? Clutter? Knick-knacks?"

It's hardly a show-home. Most of the furniture was donated and none of it matches, but it's clean and tidy because I hate having useless shit crowding the place. Ornaments need to be dusted; things need to be polished around and under. The fewer things you have, the less there is to keep clean.

You could say, "Just don't clean everything then. No-one will see behind the settee or behind that closed door." Well I would know, so if I can't be bothered to look after something properly, I get rid.

Shadow_Ferret
11-29-2010, 05:23 AM
one keeps a lot of things because they have some vague sentimental value, or might turn out to be useful after all, or...well, I'll think about this later.


One person's junk is another person's treasure. I rarely throw anything out because it might just come in handy in the future.

The few times I have thrown something out because I didn't think I'd need it again? I needed it again.

sassandgroove
11-29-2010, 07:05 AM
it is a process. I had a yard sale before I moved to NY with two suitcases. My parents were going to keep a few things for me but I sold things I would have kept to go anywhere else, toaster, silverware, stuff like that. The next day I looked at willow patterned plates I had decided to keep and wondered why. But if I hadn't gone through the process I wouldn't have gotten to that point. My mother decided to keep them, then gave them to me for my wedding. I got mad (but don't tellher) and gave them to the local thrift store. I had already let them go and there they were. bah!

It is amazing how things accumulate. I really do struggle with the sentimental stuff. The things that may be usuful someday I've gotten to where I feel good about giving them away because they'll be useful for someone else. But then are things I like but don't need like an adding machine I got from the place where i used to work because they were closing their doors. I like it but I don't need it. It takes up a lot of desk space. I finally put it in the donate pile today.

I also stuggle with paper. What do I need to keep and what do I do with what I keep? And when I had knee surgury all my organization got messed up. I found a box of mail from 2008 (when I had surgery) that wasn't open last spring and shred it all, (Thankfully the bills got paid online.) yesterday I found the bills from 2007 all arranged by month and stamped paid. I shred them too but the contrast is startling, how organized I was before the surgery and how I never got back to that.

my goal is to have the basement cleaned out and a usuable room for our annual holloween party next year. :)

kayleamay
11-29-2010, 09:14 AM
I am a tosser (why does that sound so wrong?) and my husband is a hoarder. I wait until he goes to work to clean out his closet. He's given me permission to do this, because when he tried, he still ended up with four boxes of sweaters from high school and a pair of sandals circa 1992.

I have a couple boxes of stuff that I would be heartbroken to lose, mostly pictures and letters, but the rest could burn up in a fire and I'd just roast marshmallows.

Now, about the words. I have become obsessive about judging my work...very, very harshly. I deleted an entire manuscript earlier this month because it pissed me off. That was over 80k (not horrible words but hardly genius either) gone with the push of a button. I sense I should be upset about this, yet I'm not. I've started writing chapters, then deleting them, then writing them again, then deleting them. It's become an addicition. It's a neverending cycle that accomplishes nothing. I need to stop.

Has anyone else gone through this?

Cliff Face
11-29-2010, 09:40 AM
I haven't ever deleted an entire manuscript...

And as for things... I'm a mix between hoarder and tosser. I have DVDs I've watched once and didn't like, but I haven't gotten rid of them. Furniture on the other hand has come and gone. As soon as I can afford a better piece, the old piece is ruthlessly dismissed to the darkness of either someone else's house or the thrift shop, or sometimes the dump if the thrift shop won't take it.

Of all the furniture I owned 5 years ago (enough to fill a medium-sized bedroom) the only thing remaining is a dresser, which I hardly even use. Well, unless you count my drumkit as furniture, but even that isn't set up (because there's no room for it in this house). And of the furniture I have now, I'm only planning on owning 1 or maybe 2 items in a further 5 years' time. My super-comfy mattress (if it's still in good condition by then) and my bookcase. Of course, hopefully within 5 years I'll have a second, bigger, bookcase, and a better frame for my bed.

(And I'm not counting my DVD or CD storage units in my furniture, as they're pretty small compared to the real furniture. But I am planning on keeping the DVD storages, but not the CD one.)

kinshipknight
11-29-2010, 09:40 AM
Absolutely. And my household inventory could definitely be using some "pairing down" right now. If only i had the time.

Bookewyrme
11-29-2010, 10:03 AM
I'm moving to Canada in February, and will be condensing my worldly possessions to a couple of suitcases and some carry on.

I'd better not be THAT severe with my edits, though. :D

I did this last year. Well, not to Canada, but across an ocean. It certainly helped me to pare down considerably. Especially when the choice became between books and everything else. The books stayed. Other stuff wasn't so lucky.

Don't worry though, I'm working my way back up. I'm a pack-rat by nature. :D

I love the analogy in the OP.

Susan Littlefield
11-29-2010, 10:19 AM
After many years of living alone in the same house and entertaining too many great ideas about things I could do, I find an obvious similarity between editing and house-shoveling (it's not "house-cleaning" until there's room to swing a broom).

The first time around, even the second or third, one keeps a lot of things because they have some vague sentimental value, or might turn out to be useful after all, or...well, I'll think about this later.

Finally, the last straw snaps the camel's endurance. The word count must come down, the house must be made livable. If it isn't money, throw it out!

What a great posting, Matera. It's true, if you don't need it, why keep it? I don't have a lot of "stuff," and very few real toys (unless you count my Bananagram game as a toy :D), but I still have things I can give away to charity.

This is a perfect plug for Freecyle.org too. One person's junk is another man's treasure!

Of course, when it comes to editing writing, that extra stuff can go into a folder for future use, or just plan thrown away.

cray
11-29-2010, 05:22 PM
fact: we fill the space we have.

JimmyB27
11-29-2010, 05:49 PM
There are too many posts in this thread.

KyraDune
11-29-2010, 07:31 PM
Everytime I clean I throw out at lest a full trashbag worth of junk, everytime I edit I end up losing about a chapter. Why do we collect all this useless stuff and leave it sitting around, getting bigger and bigger until its so big we have to haul it off in a truck?

tjwriter
11-29-2010, 07:33 PM
I read somewhere that if you have something sentimental but relatively useless, take a decent picture of it in a way that captures the memory and get rid of the item.

I'm slowly getting rid of stuff. The older I get, the more ruthless I become.

JimmyB27
11-29-2010, 07:37 PM
I read somewhere that if you have something sentimental but relatively useless, take a decent picture of it in a way that captures the memory and get rid of the item.
Don't tell my mum that, or she'll get rid of my dad.

KTC
11-29-2010, 07:41 PM
There are too many posts in this thread.

i could think of a couple worth throwing out. i'll just take a picture of them first.

regdog
11-29-2010, 07:47 PM
Stuff (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac)