I’m cleaning and purging. Out with the old.
When I was a kid, one of my ambitions was to create my very own library, complete with card catalog. So I collected books I loved, novels and non-fiction; books I’d read someday, reference books on everything in the entire universe … and eventually the inevitable happened: books took over my life. I became the bibliophile version of the crazy salt and pepper shaker lady who lived on the same street I did as a kid, whose sole high in life was adding more salt and pepper shakers to an already mind-boggling collection.
This “gotta-have-it” nuttiness was no more attractive on me than it had been on her. Books were everywhere in my first apartment, first condo, and then my house (more room for books in a house), wresting counter spaces from doo-dads, and artfully arranged on “tables” that were actually rounds of glass perched on top of book stack-bases, which is so obviously just this side of pathologically pathetic.
Thus, the purging. Big-time, baby, and it’s taken years. Learning to let go of stuff is not easy. But here’s the thing I’ve discovered: too much stuff can get heavy. Real Heavy. It can actually get in the way of relationships, goals, and even thinking about the stuff that really matters. Plus, if we get to thinking our stuff (like our real estate, bank accounts, cars, and wardrobes) is who we actually are, we’re going to need way more than the recognition that we’re pathologically pathetic. Long-term therapy isn’t cheap.
And now, today, finally, I’ve arrived at my shelves of books about writing. Okay, now this part of letting go really hurts. Hoo-boy. All these gems I so lovingly, carefully collected over the years, and read over and over, as if they were scripture. And then one small book–a paperback, actually–caught my eye. Worn, tattered, like the Velveteen Rabbit but way more than just regular-real, it had been my bible when I’d started writing bigger projects–and this book I will keep. Forever.
It is Stephen King’s On Writing, an awe-inspiring combination of memoir, instruction manual, and encouragement.
The copyright date is 2000, so it’s been around awhile. Most writers and readers know of it, but if you don’t have a copy, get thee to Amazon now. Read it. Then read it again. And then keep this little book forever. It’s that good.