Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dragon It All Out to the Curb

Hey guys - sorry for the long radio silence here.  On balance, the phrase "hey, why don't we move?" should be thrown about roughly half as often as "hey, why don't we quit our jobs and become hitchhiking mariachis?"

Anyway, funny story.  To facilitate the moving process, I gave away a couple carloads of stuff at my writers' workshop. Here is one small example:

Jangle is the fortune-teller.  Haromis is the harpist, natch.
My mom bought these two sweet dragon sculptures for me at a student art sale at her college, and gave them to me... hell, it must have been about twelve years ago now.  Pretty cool, huh?  I mean, anybody can grow a Windstone collection, but to say you have a pair of special one-of-a-kind dragons is pretty rad indeed!  Needless to say, they've had a special place on my display shelf ever since.

Still, I've moved pretty well out of dragon-flavored fantasy over the past few years.  And as I contemplated packing them up and finding a place for them in our new Fortress of Jollitude, I realized I was hanging on to them more out of guilt than anything else. 

So in the car they went - along with the digital camera, the DVD box sets, the super-fancy kitchen gizmos, the boxes of books and CDs and all the other wonderful things that had washed up in the lesser-used corners of my life.  I parked at workshop, threw open the car doors, and banged the soup pan to tell everybody to go get it while the getting was good.  Everything that was still left when the dust settled went to Goodwill.  (Don't worry about the dragons, though - they went to my great friend Trayce by special arrangement, and have begun a wonderful new life amidst a truly first-rate extended dragon family.)

Anyway, this endeavor had a pretty consistent refrain throughout.  "Tex, you can't give this away!"  "Tex, are you sure?"  "Tex, what's your damage?"  (I'm going to pretend that that last one was about the free stuff.)

Which is kind of funny, coming from a bunch of writers.  You know, because we get rid of stuff ALL THE TIME.  That god-awful indulgent prologue that's been weighing you down?  Axed.  That scene that was total genius and now makes your generative organs shrivel in shame every time you look at it?  Gone.  That one chapter you STILL love but does sweet jack-all to advance the story?  See you in the director's cut, buddy.

I still struggle with that part.  I can unload a fondue set in thirty seconds, but hitting that Delete key is agony.   "Butbutbut my deathless prose!"

Because getting rid of something is such an act of faith, you know?  It's saying, "Don't worry; I have enough already."  It's saying, "That's all right; there's more where that came from."  It's having the self-confidence to believe that your stuff, and your words, are fundamentally renewable resources... and that your one absolute NONrenewable resource - which is to say, your time - is better spent pruning and cultivating the truly great things, rather than meticulously curating everything you've ever owned or written.

And if you've mastered that last part, please tell me your secret.

In the meantime, many thanks to the DFW Writers Workshop and all my e-peeps.  You lighten my house, my books, and my soul like you wouldn't believe.

Denouement: Pamela "The Death Writer" Skjolsvik was so delighted with her car goodies that she commissioned a pair of art shoes for me from her super-talented daughter Lola (alias MangaShoes on Etsy!)  Say hello to Applejack and Big McIntosh!

So there you have it, folks. Prune bravely, and never fear to declutter, donate, downsize, or delete.  Empty space attracts amazing things.

What's the matter, my dear?  Don't you like your toys?


  1. Replies
    1. THESE ARE THE HAPPIEST OF SHOES. And I will personally remaster the Happy Days theme to express as much. Talent runs in your family, Pam!

    2. (And I'm putting them on right now to go to my tutoring appointment. Miss V. will marvel at them, and I will tell them that they were done by someone her own age. Take that, indolence of youth!)

  2. Great post, as always! Yes, revisions and edits feel an awful lot like cleaning out the basement sometimes. Love what you say about it being an act of faith.

    1. It IS, though! You are falling backwards and trusting that you'll be there to catch yourself. (Thanks for the compliment and the retweet, by the way - why were we not Twitter buddies before?!)

  3. lol, I must be the equivalent of a writing hoarder then! Because I never delet but just copy and past then edit...all my old drafts sit in folders of folders of folders of folders....

    Oh the shame.

    p.s I feel like you don't post enough Tex! But it's okay, I know it's because you're spending HOURS writing, ey?! lol

    1. Oh Shay, if you only knew how phenomenally naughty I've been! Thanks for missing me, though - I owe you SUCH an email (and unlike myself, I know that you will be diligently writing in the meantime!)

      Also: totally agreed. The great thing about stuff is that if you give it away, you can still buy more stuff. The great thing about writing is that if you delete it, you can still keep a saved copy, just in case you change your mind. Hoard away!

  4. Yeah... I can't do it. I'm a packrat by heart. I've even some random junk that I lead myself to believe may someday save my life... yet I don't ever carry it with me. Granted I am pretty much a hermit. I've already forgotten what ALL the things are as is, not to mention the unlikelihood of thinking of said random bolt from some unknown contraption and/or how to utilize it in a fashion that will inevitably stave off death.

    With writing it's even worse. I hope to perfect the art of chopping/editing, but it will be a long painful road. I'd likely save what I cut into some other folder for another project or rainy day (though, it will likely never come into use).

    It was awesome you gave a lot of your things away to the community (and then Goodwill). Those dragons are sweet and I'm a bit jealous. Good luck with the move!

    Outgrown dragon fantasy?! Crap, I will have to force-feed you my nonexistent literary masterpieces when they spontaneously manifest out of my ass! Ew... let's move on.

    Kudos to being able to unload and keeping the mindness that you have plenty and there is abundance. More will come as you are ready for more. An art I am far from mastering.

    Hmm I feel as though I already used "mastering" here.


    Nope, "perfect" as in "perfecting"

    Right on ;-)

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink