Thursday, January 10, 2019

"Killing Your Darlings" aka Tidying "Sacred" Areas

This week I was going to post about something else, but I can't get my mind off the controversy that has sprouted up regarding tidying..aka the KonMari method of decreasing clutter. At the beginning of the week, I started watching the Art of Tidying Up. I was, once again, at the beginning process of reorganizing my office/craft room. I hoped there might be some organizing tips that clicked with me so I wouldn't have to do this every year. I'm fortunate to have a nice writing and crafting space, yet I seem unable to do any crafting in the room. There's so much surrounding me, I have trouble being creative. I either have too much stuff, not utilizing the space correctly, or more than likely a combination of both. I hoped the show would jump start me in the process.

What I loved about the Art of Tidying was that Marie Kondo encourages the people, who asked for her help, to keep the items that spark joy for them, whether it was clothes, kitchen items, household items, and the anger-inducing categories: books and sentimental/photograph. I also interpreted "sparking joy" to mean useful needed items to keep a home at a place where it brings you joy: vacuum, toilet brush, tools (though those might spark joy for my husband), etc. The declutters controlled how much stayed or went rather than the organizer giving them an set amount (three boxes of books, two watches, four purses, etc) as happens in other organizing shows.

As I was starting on adventure of KonMari, articles disagreeing with this method started popping up on Facebook. I read a few and was disheartened by the anger, especially coming from bibliophiles and crafters/scrapbookers over the fact that books and photographs are listed as items that should be pared down. I love books. Love reading. Love crafting, especially scrapbooking and my photos (there is not a room in our house where we don't have a framed photograph we cherish hanging up). But even with my love of reading and photographs, I realized there were some items in both of those categories I could--and should--part with. Just because I let go of some books doesn't mean I no longer appreciate books, that I didn't like those authors, or that I no longer want to learn or grow. 

To me, it's like the writing advice of "killing your darlings". Many times, I've had to edit out a phrase, punchy dialogue, and even at times (like the current book I'm editing) entire chapters that I loved. While I loved the words I wrote, it didn't really move the story forward. It was just there. No purpose except taking up space...aka increasing the word count. Some of those sections, I pull out and save in a document to use later, others I delete because I know it doesn't fit with my style of writing (I was trying to be "someone" else in my writing) or was similar to something I already wrote and I don't want to duplicate myself.

There was a large collection of research books I've kept because I had spent quite a bit of time gathering them for a series I planned to write. As my collection grew, my interest in the project waned. I realized the project wasn't sometime I longed to write, but was going to write because I wanted to "belong". I felt if I wrote that types of story it would impress certain people...make them like me. (I'm deliberately keeping the details vague.)

The books didn't bring me joy. Heck, the thought of the project didn't bring me joy. I felt oppressed, not because of the content in the books, but because it was a reminder of a time when I was so desperate to be liked, I was willing to be someone else to win approval. Which I had come to understand would never happen because there would always be a reason I didn't measure up. Donating those books was a freeing experience. I wasn't just clearing shelf space but was letting go of writing what "might' please others and venturing onto projects that excited and challenged me. I was closing doors on trying to earn those friendships.

For photographs, I was keeping duplicates and blurry images because I was telling myself it was disrespectful. It was like throwing out or rewriting events. Lying. But, we didn't need every picture to remember that time in our life, especially if the photo "said the same thing" as another one already in our scrapbook. As an over-writer (ask my patient editor), I have a tendency to "say" the same thing in multiple ways. I'm learning to cut those passages out earlier and to trust that saying it once is enough. I'm using that same philosophy when I start sorting through all the saved photos. Though, I do plan on saving some photos, in archival storage containers, for each child in case they want photographs from their childhood. 

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