May 18th, 2011

wink

CLEARING OUT AN AUTHOR'S CLOSET!

Clare: Welcome to The Clare and Chrissy Show – May Edition. Mother’s Day is sadly far behind us, but long summer weekends are ahead. Hopefully everyone survived the April Showers and are enjoying the beautiful May Flowers…

Chrissy:
Spring is in the air … deedum deedumm lala lala…

Clare: Chrissy.

Chrissy: Hmmmm?

Clare: It’s time for the show Chrissy, could you stop with the singing and get with the program?

Chrissy: Already?

Clare: Yes.

Chrissy: I’m late?

Clare: Absolutely.

Chrissy: Whoopsie.

Clare: Now that we’re all here…

Chrissy:
Did you already cover the April showers/May flowers part?

Clare: More than a few sentences up.

Chrissy: Did you tell the joke?

Clare: *frowns*.

Chrissy: Oh come on, who doesn’t like the old, “if April showers bring May flowers what do May flowers bring” joke?

Clare: *Sigh*.

Chrissy: Fine.

Clare: Fine.

Chrissy: But I bet you laughed the first time one of the boys told you the joke.

Clare: Chrissy!
Chrissy: Heheh. It’s Spring. And much to our bemused dismay, Clare and I have been sucked into one of the more bizarre rituals of the season.

Clare: Otherwise known as Spring Cleaning.

Chrissy: Not happy with mere wall washing, carpet scrubbing, baseboard wiping, and other tasks best left to professionals, mothers-in-laws, and brawny pioneer women, we delved below the surfaces of our respective households in search of bigger game.

Clare: Chrissy tackled the bulging file cabinets in her basement…

Chrissy: … and Clare faced the ghosts of wardrobes past.

Clare: Oddly enough, we did this on the same week, and without prior discussion.

Chrissy: Spooky, wasn’t it? We need some spine-chilling music there, you know.

Clare: Our shared consciousness at work. Resistance is futile.

Chrissy:
Anyway, while neither of us should qualify for our own episode of “Hoarders: Buried Alive”, *cough* ...

Clare: ... our equivalent is "Life Laundry" over here ...

Chrissy: ... it was surprising to see just how much paper I had collected. After all, for much of my life I’ve picked up and moved jobs and states with nothing more than my coffee maker and a bag of clothes.

Clare: Sadly, with two boys and a husband, the amount of gear I went through was no surprise at all. None of us has ever mastered the art of letting go of stuff.

Chrissy: I’m always conflicted during the experience. It’s not something I’m comfortable doing, especially with an audience.

Clare: *nod* I understand what you’re saying. I have good friends who offer to help me out - what, they don't think I can be ruthless enough?!

Chrissy: Maybe it's the fact someone else's stuff is always more interesting than our own.

Clare: Well, let me send you a plane ticket. If and when I get In The Zone, I need no further prodding. I can confirm the much talked about feeling of lightness that comes with a good dose of de-cluttering. Not to mention the joy of empty closet space (~~~more shoes, more shoes~~~)

Chrissy: But there’s some sadness as well. I suppose these items, paper or not, are tokens. Remembrances of places, people, lives we once lived, and the people we were at that moment in time. They deserve a bit of mourning before being discarded.

Clare: And since we remember the good, far more readily than the bad, all of it is shaded with rose-colored glasses. But I measure the places I've been and the good times I've had by many of my clothes and items. This is the sweater I bought on holiday in Scarborough when I finished that novel; this is the jacket I wore to Son#2's confirmation; this is the summer bag I bought on my whizzy shopping trip with Chrissy in 2010 ...

Chrissy: And I have the matching bag myself *smooches*. Quite dashing.

Clare: At the same time, change is inevitable. By holding on too tightly we're not allowing ourselves space to grow, or even time to accept the people we are now. And my God, have some of us changed! (and I'm not *just* talking about my thickening waistline, and the fact that confirmation jacket no longer really fits...)

Chrissy: Of course, all of this segues nicely into our writing, *g*. I recently read a series of articles where the author ruthlessly set aside older works in progress and story ideas to de-clutter their workspace and mind to better concentrate on the new work ahead.

Clare: Intriguing. How did you feel after reading those?

Chrissy: Honestly? I had a panic attack. You’ve seen my ever-growing stack of WIP folders stacked on the floor.

Clare: I have to admit, that’s a huge stack. But, I have plenty of my own, so who am I to point the finger?

Chrissy: I’m making progress though. Over the last year I’ve taken all the little scribbled-on pieces of paper and turned them into Word documents - thus reducing the immediate area of fire hazard. And I’ve been keeping up doing the same with any of my research.

Clare: Maybe I need to put one of the boys on that *rolls eyes as less than likely*. But I never seem to have the time myself. I suppose that’s the heart of the problem once again, isn’t it? Lack of time. I have story concepts I’d like to explore, but then a deadline or a sub call comes up and takes precedence. Or is that ...?

Chrissy: Lack of concentration? Too easily distracted by shiny new things? *whistles innocently*

Clare: Yes, well. Let's move on.

Chrissy: Could you see yourself trashing any and all story ideas you’ve not gotten to yet? Just draw a line in time and say everything prior to here is no longer an option?

Clare: *Arrgh*. I can do it, but it hurts. I recently shelved a 34k story that stalled a year ago when I changed a major plot path. When I came back to it, it *still* stalled, and I've admitted temporary defeat. It's not working, it doesn't feel right. Clare's head, meet brick wall. Step away.

Chrissy: But it's hard to learn, as you say, when to let go.

Clare: Hell, yes. There’s still a lot of me tied up in many other stories that haven’t come to fruition or conclusion just yet. And it’s not like I can just switch them off. Sometimes I’m working on a story and my mind keeps creating dialogue for one that’s not even in the queue.

Chrissy: LOL, we can all relate to that. If we continue our analogy then, by holding on to these older works in progress are we refusing to allow room to explore the works of now? An interesting thought, but perhaps a bit short-sighted?

Clare: How so?

Chrissy: As you mentioned, change is inevitable. And while we may not be the same writer as when we originally came up with a certain story idea, I’d like to think that we are better, more seasoned writers now. Maybe we would take that same concept in a totally new direction.

Clare: Have you emptied another file cabinet? Sucked in too much dust? You sound enchantingly enthusiastic.

Chrissy: Maybe instead of de-cluttering our writing spaces, we could use this spring as a time of renewal for our writing. Get back in touch with what inspired us in the first place, take an older idea and let it flower into something exciting, new, and bold.

Clare: You’ve been gardening again, haven’t you? Sigh.

Chrissy: It shows? LOL.

Clare and Chrissy: So what Spring Madness have you all aspired to? A spot of Spring Cleaning, of De-cluttering? Authors, are you culling or cuddling your WIP folders? Readers, fancy trying a new genre this season? What is the new black, I wonder ...?

Share your thoughts and inspire us to live and write afresh - and add to Chrissy's streamlined-yet-still-brimful-of-promise WIP pile :).

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