It’s all Oprah’s fault. Or maybe just a bit my fault because I was watching her show when I should’ve been writing. Anyway, she had this guest who was an expert on de-cluttering. He was knocking on people’s apartment doors, offering to de-clutter their messiest spot in ten minutes. Most of the occupants wouldn’t let him in. Can’t say I blamed them. Who wants their junk on national TV? For the few who did open their doors, not only did they get to be on Oprah, but they got mini makeovers of their cupboards, closets, bathrooms, nooks, you name it. All the guy did was empty the area, toss out everything the people said they didn’t need, and put the rest back in a way that looked nice. It was amazing. And it started me thinking…Hey, I could do that. I SHOULD do that. I WILL do that.
Now, I’m not a messy person by nature. You could walk in my small house about anytime and it wouldn’t look too bad. I have my personal clutter—shoes, cat toys, houseplants, CD’s etc. Mostly it’s under control. But one thing isn’t under control—BOOKS.
Like most writers, I have hundreds of books. They fill the shelf in my office and the shelves on either side of the fireplace and the entire wall of shelves I had built in my downstairs TV room. And they just keep multiplying, like the tribbles in that old Star Trek episode. Encyclopedias, Time-Life sets, a zillion paperback novels, my own books, travel books, kid books, history books, how-to books, books that were my parents’, books that were gifts, the list goes on and on. With no more shelf space, they sit on my night stand, on my desk, under my desk, in baskets, in boxes, in the bathroom, almost everywhere I look.
By the time the Oprah show was over I’d made up my mind. It was de-cluttering time, and I knew exactly what had to go—that four-foot shelf of old National Geographics downstairs. I mean, really old, like from the 1970’s and 80’s. Throw them in the recycle bin, and I’d have room for more of the books cluttering up the house. Squaring my shoulders, I marched downstairs with a box to carry the old magazines outside. I had the best of intentions. But I made one fatal mistake. I started looking at them.
What a treasure trove. One 1975 issue had articles about Spain and Alaska. One from 1975 had a long piece about gold, how it’s mined and processed and twelve pages of masterpieces crafted from the metal. The others were equally wonderful. And for a writer who does historicals, their age was actually a plus. You guessed it, the National Geographics are still there. And so are the books cluttering up my house.
How about you? Are you a clutter-bug or a minimalist? Is there something that you just can’t throw away?
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