the space for me

IMG_2568If your life includes reading, writing, and books, then it’s likely filled with piles of books and papers and other things you’ve cut out or printed for ideas and then there are all the little notes for inspiration and the notes of daily reminders and the cool rocks you picked up on the beach and…

Clutter can grow anywhere. It’s something you have to constantly work on, like the mail, because it keeps on coming.

That’s one of the reasons I love a hotel room. It’s usually devoid of clutter. I always take all the little tent notices about the cable channels and saving a change of linens and stick them in a drawer as soon as I arrive.

Speaking of little things I cut out, I have one that says, “Clutter is that stuff you don’t notice, use, or care about until it’s time to get rid of it…What if you need it someday? Why did you buy it?…Enough is enough. Clutter clouds your mind, trips you up, slows you down, and devours the stuff surrounding it.”

IMG_2564Would I rather be rid of all this stuff? Yes. Can I get rid of it? No. Now that it’s here, these things are important to me. I am buying less these days–not fewer books, well maybe even fewer books, but definitely fewer things.

I found a great post about clutter at Essential ProseUnclogging Your Creative Space. There’s an interview with a “professional simplifier” who suggests taking small steps to de-clutter, and that as we do, “We become more aware of how stuff comes into our lives, and how much time and energy it takes to manage it all.”

It’s not that I’m messy. I know where everything is, and everything has a place. But the space for me in my study is getting smaller and smaller.

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Just as Home, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award in Fiction, has been called a companion to Gilead, this post is a companion to yesterday’s.  Prompted by comments, I wanted to add that if you enjoyed Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson‘s first novel, you might enjoy Home, her latest.  In style of writing, Home more closely resembles Housekeeping, rather than the epistolary slowness of Gilead.  And in sensibility, compare these two passages: 

img_10301From Home: “Glory went up to the attic, the limbo of things that had been displaced from current use but were not in the strict sense useless…Other pious families gave away the things they did not need.  Boughtons put them in the attic, as if to make an experiment of doing without them before they undertook some irreparable act of generosity.”

img_1031From Housekeeping:  “Who would think of dusting or sweeping the cobwebs down in a room used for the storage of cans and newspapers–things utterly without value?  Sylvie only kept them, I think, because she considered accumulation to be the essence of housekeeping, and because she considered the hoarding of worthless things to be proof of a particularly scrupulous thrift.”

And notice the covers–and here I admit I often judge a book by its cover–at least for the few seconds before I open it.  See the curtained window on each.  See how Paul is the only Beatle in bare feet.

I wonder if Robinson’s next novel might not take us inside another person’s home in the same place and the same time.  In other words, I wonder how many ways she can tell the same story, which is in fact not the same story.  And with each telling, if she will manage to show how a story we thought complete was in fact not.