Today’s post is really an expansion of one of the major lessons learned thus far in the course of the October Platform Challenge. In my last entry (see here), I listed seven important lessons I’ve learned. Number two on the list was that I’m not nearly as organized as I once thought I was. Over the past few days, I have been trying to address some of those organizational deficiencies. And that gave rise to another revelation. I am a Pack Rat! I am constitutionally incapable of of letting go of those things that catch my interest.
My one saving grace in this area is the fact that those things that catch my interest are knowledge, information, that “one new thing every day”. The house is not cluttered with ‘things’ I have acquired — keepsakes and curios. My house is cluttered with books. My office is cluttered with stacks of essays and articles I have printed out. It is not sufficient for me to bookmark an interesting article. I have to print it out so as to have words on paper readily at hand. Nor is the fact that I have essentially the same information already on the shelf sufficient to allow me to pass up a somewhat different take on the same material. Lying here on my desk in the stack of articles to be filed is “30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 days”, an eleven page article by Writer’s Digest editor Jessica Strawser. But wait! What is that book sitting mere inches away on the shelf above my head? “First Draft in 30 Days”, by Karen S. Wiesner?
A nineteen page short story by Kristine Kathryn Rusch that I want to read. A seven page book review from The New Criterion on Donald Stoker’s new book, “Clausewitz: His Life and Work” examining both Clausewitz and his magnum opus, “On War”. Three related articles totalling 31 pages from The New Yorker on Mars and current planning for a manned mission to Mars in the near future. “Why the Federal Goverment Fails” is a 44 page policy paper from The Cato Institute awaiting me. A four page article from The Washingtn Post on “How Ukraine became Ukraine”, a geo-political analysis and history of this current news hotspot. A sixty-plus page article/essay/small book on investing and investment vehicles.
This is a very short extract of titles in the pile marked “To be filed”. There are 3-ring binders, appropriately labeled, to accomodate virtually all of these, lining the top shelf of the hutch on my desk, awaiting each of these bits of knowledge. And. at some future point, I will reach up and pull down this binder or that one, find the article again, refresh my memory, and it will in some fashion, direct or indirect, become part of something I am writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, blog post, short story or novel. That, of course, presupposes that I will get this stack of material filed in a somewhat timely fashion.
Thus, I justify my ‘pack rat’ habits. Why don’t I just bookmark these articles? I suspect the answer to that question lies in a lifetime habit of reading printed words on paper. The same words on my computer screen are simply less “comfortable”, and, true or not, I think I learn better from words on paper than on the digital screen. So, I will continue to be ‘caught’ by an interesting article or blog as I wander through the internet. I will continue to print out page after page of information and knowledge new to me. I will continue to struggle to keep the “To Be Filed” stack under six inches at any given moment.
Most of all, I will continue to ‘learn one new thing each day’ and continue enjoying myself immensely, even when the “To Be Filed” stack inches past twelve inches high.