Monday, March 29, 2010

Cleaning House

Books, books, booksThis here house has a lot of storage space. Can be both a good and bad thing. Mostly good, I guess.

Having the space makes it easy to keep the main living area clear, as one can always momentarily hide an unneeded item behind a closed door. Then again, always being able to squirrel away this or that tends to lessen the likelihood of tossing unneeded possessions out, even when it is probably best to do so. Eventually those roomy storage spaces become crowded enough to inspire a purge, which is what I found myself doing this weekend.

I had a goal in mind. There was an old futon frame and mattress tucked way in the back, behind all of the boxes and neglected bric-a-brac. Had thoughts of pulling that sucker out and perhaps selling it, but in order to do that everything else had to come out of there first.

Aside from various outdated electronics (CD players, a couple of old small TVs, a busted turntable), the great majority of the space was filled with two items -- books and papers.

I noticed this morning that Amy Calistri was doing some spring cleaning herself recently which involved making some decisions about which of her books to take down to the used bookstore to sell. Like Amy, I have considerable difficulty parting with books once I’ve obtained them. (I’ve written here before about the fairly ridiculous number of poker books I have on my shelves.)

To summarize the problem: if I’ve read the book, I know I don’t want to get rid of it; if I haven’t, well, maybe one day I will.

All of which means there is an entire bookshelf stacked with books in the storage space (see the photo above), plus probably a dozen more boxes’ worth with which to deal, too. Rather than thinking of what to take to the used bookstore (like Amy), I’m plotting a strategy to include a couple more bookcases in the home office and thus bring some of these back from their dark, dank exile.

Meanwhile the papers, barely tamed within overstuffed boxes held together with duct tape, consist of various scribblings, class notes, old columns, juvenilia, and whatnot of limited sentimental value and even less practical worth. But while I don’t anticipate being able to trash or sell the books, I might well be able to toss some of this stuff, the great majority of which is of little interest (even to the author).

I have current writing projects in mind, including plans for a second novel, another mystery in the hard-boiled manner. Am not anticipating continuing the detective character who narrates Same Difference and create a series (as a couple who’ve read it have asked). Rather I am contemplating something new, with a different set of characters. Also am thinking of having the new one set during more recent times, as opposed to SD which is set in the 1970s. By the way, the novel can be purchased via Amazon now, and can even be included in orders for free shipping, I believe.

None of this stuff up in storage is going to be of use, though, for these new projects. So into the dumpster some (most?) will go.

Kind of amazing the psychological effect this purging business can have -- how removing clutter of the past can help one think more clearly about the future. I imagine it is a process most poker players, at least the ones who continue to work on their games, tend to go through every now and then as well.

When you first start playing, the mind is open, ready to receive whatever information and knowledge can be boxed up and stored away via the experience of playing those initial hands.

The more you play, though, the more you learn, including the fact that some what you were saving from before -- maybe most of it -- isn’t really relevant anymore. Those notes you took earlier on might have been helpful at the time, but now they are superfluous. Or perhaps just plain wrong. Time to chuck ’em.

A couple of reasons, then, that it’s good to have some storage space. Nice to have somewhere to put stuff. And also nice to be able to clear it out.

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