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We have this huge shed in our back yard. It’s full of boxes from before we were married. All manner of treasures and junk that I have long ago forgotten.
Thanks to my husband, all the boxes are stowed on shelves. Otherwise, oh mercy, I shudder to think of the carnage.
I don’t go in the shed. It just plan overwhelms me. I see the boxes and know that I need to go through every single one. That I need to pull each item out and figure out what to do with them. Trash. Sell. Give away. Seems like a quick and easy process.
It won’t be.
I’ll find old notes from friends I haven’t seen in years. Some of those friends who have since died. Books from a Literature class I adored in college. Pictures. Oh, the pictures that will bring a lump to my throat. Memories of the days before kids. Before marriage. Before Jeff. So long ago. I’m a different person now. Thanks to God for that. Some of the recollections that a scrap of paper can evoke are painful. Others joyful. Still others will make me laugh.
Clutter is never just clutter. Boxes of old stuff hold the past. A past that sometimes I need to evaluate.
When I write, I let myself wander around the old boxes of thoughts and memories that are stacked from floor to ceiling in my brain. Some of the memories help me construct a character, a scene, a conflict, a resolution. These memories can be so raw that the only way I can safely process them is by writing them into a fictional situation. Allowing my not-real characters to deal with certain things that I lived helps me understand myself better.
Fortunately, I’m good at masking myself in my fiction. I hope, at least.
The point is, although a cluttered shed is annoying or frustrating, a cluttered brain, when used correctly, can be a positive for my writing life.
How do you deal with memories? Both painful and joyful? Does it help you to talk it out? See a therapist? Take a nap? Let me know. I love hearing from all of you!