Everything Must Go

Well, everything that isn’t useful.

I’ve been on a major mission. I’m getting my manuscript back next week, and it will be my very last chance for changes (wow!). For all other stages of the book, I’ve worked surrounded by clutter and paperwork and disarray, and it’s been really stressful.

For years, we’ve been talking about moving to a bigger house or a house with a better layout or better closet/cabinet space. Finally, the light bulb went on over my head and I realized that if we had less stuff, we wouldn’t need a bigger house or better closets. So, I went into Superwoman mode. Over the past two weeks, I went through everything we owned and evaluated how useful and necessary it was. Each item either got a good place to live, or got boxed up and put out in the garage. Next week, a truck from the VOA is coming to haul off the stuff we don’t need anymore, and we will be clutter-free.

I’m amazed at the things we felt we had to keep (videos when we don’t even have a VCR, two extra sets of dishes we never ever use, textbooks, and tchotchkes, and coffee mugs, oh my!) and I’m embarrassed by the way we clung to stuff that other people can get good use out of.

I always said I didn’t have the time to do this kind of overhaul, but not doing it was eating up more of my time. I don’t even want to think about all the hours I spent moving piles from one place to another or searching for something I needed in the mass of things I don’t need. We kept the things that really mean something to us, and things that are actually useful in our everyday lives, but it’s amazing how many things didn’t match either of those qualifications.

Now, I kind of like our house. I’ve cleared out a space in the basement where I can workout (without hitting my head on a snowboard when I do crunches). My office is clean and comfortable. There’s a place for everything in the kitchen, and when I open cabinets, nothing falls out. Now, we fit here. Now, this space works for us. And next week, when I go through STAY for the very last time, it will be at a clean desk, with a clear head. Phew!

I am not good at relaxing and it stresses me out.

I turned in the manuscript for STAY on Wednesday. It was the second round of revisions. There may be more changes, but this is probably the last round of major changes. Everyone I’ve talked with since has encouraged me to relax, take some time off, and/or chill out.

The problem is that I can’t. Firstly, while working on my manuscript, I left a lot of things undone. There’s a small forest growing in gutters. The weed situation in my garden is completely and totally out of control. Bills must be paid. Laundry done. Dog hair vacuumed. That kind of stuff.

And then there’s the exciting stuff. Starting a new book, or going back to one of the projects I’d been working on before we sold STAY. Author photos. A website. Some cool stuff that’s going to happen with Allie’s Answers next week. A burning desire to start playing guitar again. My new workout routine (hello, biceps!).

Plus, I want to get rid of all the stuff we’re not using so it’s easier to keep the house clean when I do get back to work. And I’m thinking about removing the drop ceiling in the basement because the tiles are old and dirty and buying new tiles seems wasteful. And can I actually redo a bathroom by myself? I don’t know. Should I try?

When I think about spending a week or two “relaxing,” I start getting tense. I start thinking about all the projects that need to be tackled and what will will be waiting for me when I’m done relaxing. But when I think about getting things done, moving forward, heading toward what’s next, I am joyous, excited, and raring to go.

I will, however, take a little time to read a few chapters of The Embers, and enjoy the fancy root beer a dear friend left on my doorstep last night.