Everyone okay? No Aliens demanding our assimilation? No Zombies on the front lawn? The planet’s magnetic poles still where they were yesterday? No solar flares about to wipe out the electronic age and cause widespread withdrawal from our TV and other devices? Cool, because it would have truly sucked if the one year when I had all my Christmas shopping done, wrapped, and mailed – without incurring the expedited shipping charges to arrive on Christmas Eve – was the year the world ended.
Now that it’s established that it’s business as usual, I guess I have to finish up my “Christmas Cleaning” and prepare for the family gatherings as well as the wrapping paper chaos that my children will turn my living/family room into on Tuesday morning. Most people do spring or fall cleaning, not me. Every year, starting the weekend after Thanksgiving (when everyone else is out shopping), I begin my annual purge/organize and clean. I throw out what can’t be repaired, reused, recycled or repurposed. I go through old papers and either shred or recycle. I donate anything that the kids haven’t played with in a year, things that they have out-grown, or any item that they just don’t like or use. I go through my own wardrobe and donate anything that doesn’t fit or I haven’t worn in the past two years. I do a limited purge on my husband’s stuff as well. Then I organize what’s left and find homes for everything. What doesn’t have a home after all of this will go to the donation center, and then I clean. Some years my enthusiasm is lackluster, some years I am so energized I could significantly reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint if someone could figure out how to plug me into the grid.
This year, perhaps spurred by a recent TLC marathon of “Hoarders”, I decided to tackle my old “idea file” and see if there was anything that could be tossed. This “file” is actually two bankers box of papers with no order or system of organization that I used to store my story ideas before I switched to writing on a computer. The papers are anything from a sentence scribbled on the back of an envelope to a couple of rough (very rough) first drafts of novels. The quality of the writing or concepts is equally varied. Unlike some writers I have met over the course of my lifetime, I will freely admit that sometimes what I produce is utter dreck. So, I spent several hours alternating between mortification, amusement, and wonder. Anything that would cause my family shame and embarrassment, or my alma mater to request the return of my degree in English, were it to be released posthumously was consigned to the shred pile. (Not taking any chances of it ever being viewed by other eyes while being sorted at the recycling center.) Just like there are some things that just can’t be unseen, there are some things that just can’t be unread.
While working through the papers, I found some old notes for a storyline set in 2012 and using the Mayan calendar as the catalyst for the plot that I had written shortly after graduating from college. The basic story concept I had sketched out has been done in some fashion a number of times by different authors in the last five years, so nothing is fresh about it. Further, since we all woke up this morning to find we weren’t extinct or in the throes of an alien invasion or the Zombie Apocalypse, the 2012 angle won’t work either. Regardless of those pretty major flaws, there is some good stuff in those notes that I can repurpose to a new storyline – one I can work on after I deliver the other promised works in progress to my extremely patient, tolerant, and absolute saint of a publisher.
An acquaintance asked me the other day how I get the ideas for my stories. I told her that ideas come from everywhere when I am in the right frame of mind – current events, historical events, my crazy imagination, conversations I hear snippets of, and from watching people. I guess now I have to add cleaning to that list.
Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.