Cleaning out the junk


When trying to leave our comfort zone and taking on a challenge, some people – people like me – tend to make things more complicated than they are. We blow things out of proportion. The size or type of challenge we put in front of ourselves doesn’t really matter.

It can be deciding to tackle that junk cupboard or drawer we all have somewhere in our home. Every time we open it we sigh promises to organize it – some other day – then close it again. In our minds, it becomes this MONUMENTAL task that will take hours upon hours to complete and it’s almost undoable because where are we supposed to put the stuff? It’s in that drawer for a reason.

But, if we’d only open that drawer and start, we’d realize that 90% of its contents are old pens that don’t work, some rubber bands that are so dry they break when we try to use them. The papers we’ve stuffed in are mostly old envelopes and papers we didn’t want to look at but promised ourselves we would – later. Mostly it’s stuff regarding our pensions because who want’s to think about how poor we’ll be when we’re old?

Then there’s the old, dry mascara and that lip gloss that smells suspicious. It’s been there since that time you switched purses and left all the forgotten junk you found at the bottom on the kitchen counter. You swept it all down into the drawer that evening when you had to make room for your groceries.

There’s probably some flyers and takeout menus, most of those places have closed or the menus are out of date. You’ll find a surprising amount of loose change, good for you, buy some shoes. Unless of course, you’re unlucky and your country has changed its coins since the last time you tackled that drawer and the change is now unusable. I now have about fifty dollars lying around in money I can’t use.

There’s probably a lot more junk in there, but my point is, if just open the drawer and look at it objectively, you’ll notice that you can throw out ninety percent and the rest can stay there, it’s not the end of the world. In the end, it takes you twenty minutes and with a little luck, you’ve found enough money to treat yourself.

I’m trying to look at writing the same way. Making the leap from writing stories to writing a book sounds so intimidating. The distance between the two points so long. I want to try to make it feel less frightening and achievable. Not the whole process, not getting published and all that, but the writing part.

When have you written a book?

A book it sounds so serious, so grand. But, good or bad, published or unpublished a book is a certain number of words written into a somewhat cohesive story.

A certain number of words. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges you see before yourself when you write. It’s like some kind of magical boundary you have to cross and it always seems so far away.

Once, for fun, I Google to find out the word count of famous novels. I found this place: “Word Count for Famous Novels

It has a list of novels most of us recognize and their word count. Imagine my surprise when I understood that, in terms of word count, I’d written a book. I’ve written two.

That’s one less obstacle I have to overcome. Now I know I can write enough words in a somewhat cohesive manner to call them a book. Of course, now I have to write a good one.  But that’s a whole other challenge and a whole other junk drawer to tackle, for now, I’m going to take this win and feel good about it.

// Ms. F

Image Credits: The Joy of Housework, art by Gene Pelham.  Detail from June 1954 Coronet Magazine cover.




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