Monday, January 9, 2012

Remodel? Or Revision?,_construction,_carpentry_vc003592.html

Lately I've been a bit irregular in my blogging due to several interruptions. Christmas holidays, of course, but the most recent one is preparing our house for a modest (but disruptive) kitchen remodel. For the last ten days, while updating my Facebook page, my photo albums, while revamping my blog, I've also been packing up dishes, pots and pans, food and spices, etc., in order to empty shelves that are going to be ripped out Wednesday so that new ones can be put in. We are having a dishwasher installed as well, so we had to go purchase one. (Yes, all these years we've been washing dishes by hand.)
You never know how much you've accumulated until you have to empty your kitchen of every single item that isn't an appliance. This has also turned into a "down-sizing" event in general: I've been combing through drawers and closets in other rooms as well as the kitchen, sorting through items and taking bags and boxes to various thrift stores in the area--all the while wondering, what on earth makes us accumulate things we don't use or need? I actually started some of this purge before Christmas on the premise that someone else might have a happier Christmas as a result of my clean-out. One person's "cast off" really is another person's "great find". I know, because I hang out at thrift stores. The purge has also progressed to the basement and the garage; and I have to say, it feels great to be less encumbered.

But as I've been sorting, deciding what to keep and what to eliminate, I couldn't help noticing the parallels to revising and editing a book. (See? Once a writer, everything becomes relevant to writing.) Isn't that what we do in a rewrite? Pare down. Pull out what isn't essential to the story. Decide what to keep, what to eliminate. (In some cases, what to save for another story with a better fit--not too different from trundling items over to another location, like a thrift store, where they can be put to better use.)

Maybe it's the effect of the year turning--out with the old, in with the new--but I seem to be revising and editing everywhere I look: my WIP, my blog, my Facebook, our home. "Eliminate clutter" is becoming my mantra for the year--and it wasn't even on my list of New Year's resolutions.

Feels good, though.

How about you? What revisions are going on in your life at the dawn of this new year?


Kelley Lynn said...

I know since I've moved out of my parent's house and into my own apartment I have done the complete opposite of accumulate. I realized I had accumulated so much at my parent's that I refuse to do it now. I make many runs to Goodwill every year. Haven't used this item this year? Then to someone else it goes!

Good for you for taking this opportunity to purge the house. I'm sure it feels great. Though I'm also sure it feels like a lot of work :)

Alleged Author said...

It's when you move that you understand how much stuff you have. I moved in 2008 and found items I didn't know existed. :)

Anonymous said...

We've been here for over 10 years, and right now we're thinking about moving so I need to start purging!
hmm. I'd much rather edit and write tho.

Rosi said...

Purging is always good. I really need to get going on it. I need to do some purging on a couple of my novels too! Thanks for the reminder.

Emailman said...

haha!! How funny! I just had my kitchen done a couple of weeks ago. Man! It will seem like hell for a while, but it will be worth it in the end. And I am also having my house rewired, so I had to clear out my loft.(That's an attic to you non English so I've been told lol) 28 years worth of accumulated rubbish! It was fun though, we found some weird and wonderful things up there :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

I understand your situation as in a few months our house will undergo a complete renovation.
Yes...its so much like revising an editing a book.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Ah, thanks to all of you for sharing your own stories:

Kelley, you are wiser than I: I gave myself a two-year rule. If I haven't worn or used in in two years, I'm probably not going to.

Alleged, I did too! There actually were a couple of items I couldn't place, and neither could my husband. When did we get that?

Michelle, yes, I'd rather be doing my revision, too. Hopefully by next week the dust will clear, things will be in their new places, and I CAN WRITE AGAIN!

Rosi, yes, purge the novels. It's amazing how much you can lop away on a rewrite, once you know the main story structure, isn't it!

Emailman, I was so encouraged by your phrase "a couple of weeks ago." That means the chaos is over now, right? Right?

Rachna, a complete renovation? That is going to be demanding to live with! Good Luck!

Theresa Milstein said...

It does feel good to get rid of clutter. I should do that more often! We've been house hunting, so we really need to pare down!

Emailman said...

haha!! It only seems like forever, but it does end, I promise :D

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Theresa, now is a great time to cart things off to thrift stores. Less to move when you find your house.

Emailman, so glad to hear that. Our kitchen currently looks so weird!

Margaret Duarte said...

I love remodels for this very reason. Yes, they're unsettling and turn our lives upside down, but they force us to zero on in what we need and what's important and what can go. One of my missions is to go through my kitchen and pantry shelves and drawers and purge! Guaranteed a good portion of my canned food products are past their expiration dates. Ummm, how does that relate to the revision of my novels? Well, I've grown as a writer, and some of my work needs to be checked to see if it's still significant and of value. I need to dig deep and keep only what's in top-notch form.