Letting Go, Part I

I am not a classic hoarder.  You don’t have to navigate through narrow alleyways of towering books, magazines and newspapers to find my bathroom, or my kitchen, or me.  I do love books and have far more than I will ever read, and I keep them properly in bookcases (for the most part).

I also love paper.  Especially paper that has my writing on it.  Even if that writing is from my sophomore year in high school.

I recall that my teacher for this class was impressed with my short story and wanted me to submit it somewhere.  Of course, I didn’t.

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Especially when my movement forward as a writer involved the mimeograph machine and a weird imagination that usually centered on angst.  Really, a story titled “The Stone”?

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I advanced in my writing to some degree, eventually turning out a story that seemed a little more grounded in reality, albeit with two lesbians who, in my writer’s mind, were really just two halves of the same soul.

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Then I went to grad school.  I’m still not sure if that helped or hindered my writing.  I know for sure studying for a doctorate in Social Work almost made me give up writing altogether.  (Not finishing the doctoral program was one of the best things I’ve ever done.)  But first I obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s in English.  The difference between the two is that with the bachelor’s, I could focus on writing …

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as well as politics …

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With my master’s, it was all English (and American) literature all the time.  There were a couple of creative writing classes, however, which disturbed the slumbering writer.  But that’s for another blog post.

32 thoughts on “Letting Go, Part I

  1. Pingback: Letting Go, Part II | 1WriteWay

  2. Marie I love that you kept such jewels from your past. I did not get passionate about writing until late twenties. I started with travel diaries and the passion grew. When I read my mad ramblings, I cringe and yet I can see a certain cheek that I don’t have now. Great stuff.

  3. Like you Marie I love paper and it doesn’t necessarily have to have my writing on it 😀 I would have kept every notebook, journal and school paper from Grade 0 onwards if it wasn’t for the fact that we move a lot (some of it across oceans). Wish I had! That would make for a good laugh. I fancied myself to be the next Barbara Cartland when I was twelve…

    • Moving does have that effect. After 20+ years of living in one place, sometimes I am overwhelmed by the accumulation of stuff. Hence, part of my desire to even get rid of some of my old writings. It makes me feel like I’m clearing out some spiritual space if not physical space 🙂 To read where my mind was at when I was 9 would be a hoot! I did write a short story back then and even was allowed to read it to my class. My teacher took my only copy and never returned it for some reason. It’s a mystery that I still wonder about … Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  4. I have not kept anything in hard copy other than the novel I wrote in 2010. That one is still in a box, mostly because it cost me 30 bucks to print out at Staples. I recycled all my old stories and college papers ages ago.

    I always figure I’ll write something better next time.

    • I certainly hope I’ve been writing better than my high school short story 🙂 One of the things I do enjoy about revisiting old writings is not the writing itself, but the memories around the time I wrote them. Well, sometimes I enjoy that. Sometimes I don’t and the writing that prompts bad memories is getting chucked.

  5. When I was young I fancied myself as a writer and I kept boxes filled with everything I wrote – including diaries – from the age of maybe 9 or 10. Luckily for me I became a bit of a gypsy and as I moved about the world I began to sift and sort through ‘my life in a box’, until eventually,, in a moment of personal liberation, I ceremoniously burned the whole damned lot 🙂 I’ve been working for over three years with a woman who is/was a hoarder and her house was as you described. There wasn’t a time I stepped into that environment that I didn’t think “There but for the grace of god….” Nowadays I just keep all my art scribbles 🙂

    • I used to worry that my mom was a hoarder, except that she hid her hoards of plastic bags and TV guides. When she moved to a smaller place, she had no problem letting go of stuff. What a relief 🙂 Moving is a great way to get oneself to “cull” the accumulation of years of life. Given several comments on this post, I’ve since “rescued” a few of my early writings, but there’s many others still headed for the recycle bin. I like the idea of burning the lot in a ceremony 🙂

  6. I’ve got a couple of fragment s of poetry from my ‘green’ years stuck away in some cluttered corner of my brain, but no hard copy of any of my writing. I sometimes worry that WordPress will vanish in a cloud of cyber smoke and all my post will be lost. Have I done anything about it. I’ll leave you to guess 🙁

    • I have to remind myself to download my posts into MacJournal, a software that is synced to my blog. But still, that leaves all my blog writing to the computer gods 😉

  7. Marie, I know exactly what you mean! I am not a writer such as many of my followers and people I follow are. But I do start and intend to keep going on sketchbooks and journals. I think the last one I did was in 1970 where I actually finished every single page! But I love to go back and read what I wrote.

    • Hello, Hollis! I love looking over old journals and revisiting times I thought I had forgotten. I’ve lost a couple of journals over the years. One I kept when I traveled cross-country in 1979. I wish I still had that one. Goodness knows what happened to it.

  8. As long as it can be kept in a folder or tote, that’s my philosophy. I have notes from high school as well. Some of them pertain to writing. I’m thinking about putting these out on a bulletin board to encourage me to keep writing. Those people supported me when I was just beginning to realize this was something I wanted to do. I think it’s nice you’ve kept them.

    • Thank you for your comments! You’ve inspired me to hang onto at least the more sentimental of my papers, those where I received the most encouragement. 🙂

  9. How great that you still have so many of your own “primary sources”! I’ve hung on to quite a few too, but I can’t remember the last time I hauled them out to look at. I know I’d never share them with the world though!

    I’m a little disturbed at how yellowed the mss are… Tempus fugit, I guess.

  10. Wow…1989-90? You’re old! LOL!
    Man, that’s awesome that you’ve kept that stuff! I wish i’d had that particular gene…
    That’s the kinda of reminescing that will make you smile and shake your head and think “Man, that really sucked” and laugh and laugh!

    • Yes, I am old … I was already in my 30s when I took those classes 🙂 Your comments are spot-on, Trey. I did a fair amount of laughing as I went through my papers 😉

  11. I have a file cabinet full of papers I wrote in high school as well as college, Marie. Topics ranged from suicide to marijuana for medical purposes…that paper I wrote in the early 80’s. I suppose I have some hoarder tendencies myself.

    • So glad to know I’m not alone 🙂 I’ll probably recycle some of my papers … The essays on literary theory still make me cringe, but some of my early writing does help me see how I’ve grown as a writer (or not … It’s all relative).

  12. I have a box of “important” papers, including some writing and other class assignments, that range from grade school through college. Over the years the box-ES have shrunk to one box, but some things are just too precious to get rid of. Unfortunately, I have a house full of those precious things! (But I am really glad I saved some of those school papers—makes me realize how much I’ve grown as a writer.)

  13. I’ve saved a lot of school papers too, Marie. One I lost track of over the years was the first term paper I wrote in early high school. I wrote it completely by hand because the “e” key on our electronic typewriter wasn’t working. The paper was on this new disease called AIDS, and at the time few mainstream Americans had even heard of it. I was really proud of the high grade I received. Wish I still had it.

    • I’ve culled quite a few of my school papers, but I’m still surprised at how many I’ve kept. My husband thinks I should at least hold onto the short story I wrote in high school, but it doesn’t compare to your term paper on AIDS. I would be sad over losing that paper too.

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