Monday, November 25

Is it stuff or stash or a full place in the heart?

      I try these days to stop myself from accumulating more stuff. We’ve lived in this house 36 years this week. When we moved here, we didn’t have enough furniture or other items to fill it—there were empty spaces everywhere. Even in the kitchen cabinets. It didn’t take long to fill the spaces, though, and every time a kid left home—with all their stuff—it was as though nothing left. Other paraphernalia filled the empty closet, the bare spot under the bed, the drawers emptied of underwear and socks and high school treasures. There was the full place in my heart the kid left behind, but that had nothing to do with the possessions that left the house. I missed the kids—still do, come to that—but never their stuff.
          So now I avoid garage sales and flea markets, even though I love them, because it’s hard to resist a bargain. If I get new clothes or household goods, I try to remember to donate at least as many as I’ve bought. I even refrain from buying new fabric until my stash is—well, no, I won’t go there. Anyone who sews knows fabric isn’t “stuff”—it’s a sewist’s dictionary, thesaurus, and swag all rolled into one.
          A good sewing machine is as essential as a good computer, and if you have a nice-size pile of fabric (nice-size means it’s spilling out of whatever you’re using to containerize it), you’re good to go. You can build anything from those colors, substitute when you’re using the same color too much, and give it away (preferably sewn into something recognizable) when you want to share joy with someone.
          The story I’m writing has had its problematic times. I reached the middle of it last week and didn’t know where to go. This happens, I suppose I should admit, in every story I write.
          So, this week, I’m back at the beginning. I’m deciding if the story starts in the right place. If motivations are what they should be. If I feel the protagonists’ pain. I’m getting rid of the “stuff” but cherishing the full places at the heart of the book. I’m rebuilding the story. Rearranging the stash, replacing too much blue with a brave slash of red and…yes, absolutely, some green and yellow will fit there, too.
          There are times when I think I’d like to stop writing books. I get tired and discouraged and…well, tired and discouraged. It is these times that I know it’s time to get rid of some stuff, treasure the full places, and build up the stash.
          Happy writing—and sewing. Have a great Thanksgiving!


  1. what a wonderful post for a Monday morning, Liz! I agree - those empty times are pointing us to refill the well. And then another story will come bubbling to the surface. Good luck with slashing and cutting. And Happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. Great post, baby, and yes, a thousand times to the reworking of a story. I am there myself right now. I'm not a sewer or even a crafts person, but I get the whole "too much stuff" thing because I live with a person who is very into his stuff. And I guess if having two homes doesn't constitute being a stuff person, what does, right? We closed up the lake cottage this past weekend and brought home all the things that might not make it through the winter--mostly foodstuffs. So now I have two bottles of olive oil, two packets of raisins, two containers of get the picture. Ah well, I've got about 5 months before we reopen. I imagine I can use the two of everything by then... Happy Thanksgiving!!

  3. Stuff? Oh, baby, do I get the stuff! I don't sew, but my BFF does, and she has PILES of fabric. LOL
    If you need the Wranglers' help with your story, let us know!
    Happy turkey day!

  4. It sounds as if you are grateful for everything you have and well, I guess that means you can never have too much of wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Thanks, Kristi!

    HI, Nan. I'm thinking about taking a cooler with my stuff like that to Florida in January just to keep from doubling up!

    Hi, D. Thanks--I may need that.

    Thanks for coming, Ashantay. I am very grateful, which I probably tend to run into the ground :-).

  6. We really had to deal with the "stuff" issue when we moved earlier this year. We may be in withdrawal in a month or two when we move into the new house and finally unpack all the boxes. HOWEVER, at least a third of them contain our daughter's cherished childhood possessions. Yes, we hauled them all the way from Minnesota to California just to continue to store them for her. Maybe someday she'll have her own home big enough for all her stuff. In the meantime, I don't mind. It feels like part of her never left home, and that warms my heart. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  7. I never thought I was a "stuff" person until I look in some of our junk drawers in the house. Everything seems to migrate there. I won't even want to go into the stuff collecting in trunks and wooden boxes all over the house.

  8. LOL. I thing there are still prom dresses and a letter jacket or two in a closet upstairs, Alison. AND a wedding dress!

    I try NOT to be a "stuff" person, too, Shawn, but it still adds up. Sigh.

  9. Liz, as a quilter and a writer myself I can relate to what you wrote. For me the creative part (in sewing and writing) is always much more fun than the grunt work of making it all pretty and finished up. Yet without the work at the finish we would never be able to create anything, just have lots of unfinished projects. Right now I have way too many unfinished projects! I am also married to a man who is a pack rat, so we have lots of "stuff." Keep at it. Your writing is something I look forward to!

  10. Sorry I was late to the party, but I just finished reading the wonderful book, One More Summer. Agh. You made me laugh, you made me wince, you made me cry. Loved it. Love you!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Liz!

    PS--we are not going to get into what's in my garage--suffice it to say, not a car. AGH. Junk pilers anonymous.

  11. Hi, Carolyn, Thank you so much!

    Margie, you've done wonders for my ego today! I'm so glad you liked the book.