Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 11, 2011

Editing Your Life

I’m running around like a fool trying to pack up everything in my house because we are moving in less than two weeks. It’s not like this was a surprise, but you know how it is—you don’t jump into it until you have to because the project is almost too massive to contemplate and stay sane.

Of course, I’m not just packing. If all I was doing was dumping everything into boxes, that would be easy. But I firmly believe in not moving junk I don’t want or need to a new location. I am, after all, paying the movers by the hour so the less stuff they need to pack and unpack into the truck, the less I will pay. Besides, there is something freeing about divesting myself of old stuff with no purpose or meaning.

In essence, I am editing my life.

I am getting rid of all the stuff that once seemed important, but in hindsight is not. Of things that once meant something but no longer do. Of things that once fit me, but no longer fit who I am. Old clothes—I’m a stay at home mom whose body is a decidedly different shape than it was when I worked in an office many moons ago. Do I still need those business suits that no longer fit (and scream “Eighties!!!”)? Old paperwork—do I still need the repair history of a car I no longer own? Old memorabilia—if I can’t remember why I kept it, do I still need it? Old books—okay, I need all of them.

On the other hand, I am keeping all the things I still need. Not just the practical everyday things everyone needs, but things that are like a piece of me. A box with commemorative T-shirts. The old typed stories that were my first stab at writing. Photos. Shining mementos that bring me back to another time, that call up another human being as if they are in the same room…that recall events that made me who I am, moments of brilliance that made my life wonderful.

I couldn’t help (because I’m a geek) thinking how much like editing a book this process is. I edit to weed out the things that aren’t needed anymore. Things that may have been needed in the early draft, but now are simply dead weight. I kill my darlings. I rework prose that no longer fits the style.

And I keep the things that work. Those phrases that capture a character or place perfectly. The dialogue that sparkles. All of the gems that make the story shine and glitter. Weeding out the flotsam allows them to shine.

So weed out some unnecessary junk in your words and in your life. Let your essence burn bright, strong, and unfettered.

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Responses

  1. Kerry, I like editing books and the home! Nice correlation here….thanks!

    Like

    • I’ll admit I’m something of a packrat (my poor husband!), but this is a great opportunity to get rid of some of the dead wood. I should probably do it more often, but it’s so easy to forget – to not “see” the things you don’t need because you’re used to them being there. Kind of like editing really – it’s so hard to imagine your book without all the needless stuff you worked so hard on in the first place!

      Like


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