Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Friday, April 30, 2010


It's not that I feel superior to reality television or, certainly not to people who watch it. I just have not allowed it to become part of my life because I watch too much television as it is. Bones, Vampire Diaries, The Tudors, House, Big Bang Theory, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, Accidentally on Purpose, In Plain Sight. Saving Grace, Friday Night Lights. That's not even counting football and the hours I spend working crossword puzzles while I sit with The Guy as he watches every show that remotely hints that it might have a space ship, alien, or supernatural being. I admit that some of my shows are not what they used to be, but I'm invested now and I have to watch until something jumps the shark. So you can see why I have steered clear of reality TV.

Until The Hoarders. I am fascinated. If you haven't seen it, it's about what you would expect. House stacked to the ceiling with stuff. Filth. Intervention by friends and family. Professional clears it out. Homeowner cries.

Recently, I watched it with a roomful of people and everyone kept saying, "How do you get to that point?" Not me. I didn't say that. I know.

Don't get me wrong. My house it not stacked with stuff. In fact, it looks pretty good most of the time. (Except for The Guy's desk and I can't go there.) While I don't run as tight a ship as my mother did (who, I swear, got up in the middle the night to throw away the newspaper and scrub the ceilings), I can let people in without being ashamed 99 per cent of the time. I don't feel the need to keep magazines, clothes that don't fit, or books I know I won't read again.

Yet—there are a couple of things. I love the containers that takeout hot and sour soup comes in. I have dozens. I can't throw them out. Luckily I have plenty of cabinet space or they might very well be stacked on the hearth in the living room. And it's a good thing I don't have a constant source for those precious little ketchup and mustard bottles you get with room service at hotels. Unlike the soup containers, which I do use, those little bottles are utterly useless. But at three inches tall, they are so cunning, so special that I don't understand how anyone could throw them away. Plotter cured me of saving Lean Cuisine trays. The summer she lived with The Guy and me, she had an intervention. After making me say why I needed them—and there weren't that many uses—, she limited me to eight. I have kept to that.

But I understand how hoarders come to be. The feel about everything, the way I feel about soup containers and baby condiment bottles. (And, yes, previously for Lean Cuisine trays.)

Yet, I don't hoard my words. I've heard other writers talk about how hard it is to let go of a scene. But no matter how hard I've worked, how funny it is, or how golden I think the words are, if Plotter and I decide it isn't right, it's gone. I don't care. I worry about myself a little that I can throw my babies in the ditch so easily—maybe too easily.

Though we don't always completely dispose of everything that doesn't work. Maybe we do a little semi-hoarding from time to time. We had a sex scene that we thought was a work of art—steamy, tender, funny, and all the rest of it. Yet, Plotter and I decided it was a sex scene for the sake of a sex scene that didn't do anything for our story except make it even longer. And we are loquacious under the best of circumstances.

"I do hate to let it go," she said with a sigh.

"We could save it," I said. "We can change the names and use it later." I don't know if that will work but it made us feel better.

How about you? Can you let go?


  1. One of the most painful things I have learned...and I still am learning, is to not be "married" to my scene or a sentence, even a character. They all change.

    But I really hate the divorce process..."Yes, I can no longer live with your absolutely hilarious introduction of the secondary characters...here are the papers, it's time to leave."

    Why can't I just yank it? Because if I write something that amuses me, I like to keep it--that and I'm stubborn. It's quite the vicious cycle.

    Still, you have an excellent point. I agree some things just have to go.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go make sure the locks are changed on that scene......

  2. Ah! You have drawn me to an intervention this morning, I see.

    I am the Queen of not being able to let go. I've had to learn, and especially via help through very special friends, that sometimes you have to put a book away. I'm a perfectionist, you see. And, perfectionists are very focused. We know we can get the project right, no matter how long it takes, to the detriment of moving on to bigger and better things. :)

    As for reality shows, I only watch American Idol and sometimes Dancing with the Stars. Very seldom, Mythbusters or that show where they combat a Pirate against a Knight on the history channel. I love the history channel.

    Bring on the supernatural shows. I love Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Ghosthunters (guess that's a reality show, well fairly staged anyway), the Mentalist, Castle, Heroes and quite often Masterpiece Theatre. Go figure.

    Now if only I can get Red and Soaring Eagle to stop trying to convince me we can get their supernatural native american story to sing....

  3. I have one particular thing I've been trying to get rid of for the past 6 months. The legal system works slowly, especially when one party won't cooperate.

    My office looks like a thrift store right now, but it's the last room I'm working on in my apartment. Gimme some more time and it won't be so bad.

    I've watched that show too and watch in horror.

    I wish I had words to hoard. I've always written short -- extremely short. I have a use for every word and none I can afford to throw away. I have to laugh at the writer who says, "I have to cut this 100K novel down to 80K." Uh... I'll take those 20K words off your hands. LOL

  4. Mary--Put it in a files called "cuts". It might, at least in part, come in handy at a later date. Some authors "deleted scenes" on their websites. There's always that possibility.

    Kathy--Red and Soaring Eagle may have a point. This just might not be the right time and the right market. Ever start to read a book and find that you can't? Then later you pick it up and can't put it down? Their time may come.

    PM--You will get rid of that albatross eventually.

    Writing short--I wish I had that gift. I'll ship you 20K anytime. I must think I am very important to have so much to say. I once had a professor tell me that the short story requires the most talent and discipline.

  5. I am ready to drop kick something out the window AFTER one more battle to whip it into shape. But the words won't be wasted. Nope. They'll be strangely recycled in other works.

  6. Christine--Kick away. Sometimes there no other way. I made a rhyme.

  7. I used to hoard plastic maxwell house coffee containers. I kept waiting for someone to say they used those for storage containers. Alas, no one came forward so i threw them all away. No recycling in the country. lol