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“I’m beginning to realise that I’m either overly sentimental, or am a hoarder who struggles to part with things. In all honesty, I’m probably both.” – Fennel Hudson, ‘A Waterside Year.’

Last December I made an announcement. On Facebook, so I couldn’t back down without losing face. I would buy no new clothes, makeup etc, and would get rid of “stuff”. That post was on my personal page. Who then could foresee that 2020 would truly be the year of staying home and not buying things. I did cheat. In February, before the lockdown, a new pair of shoes. But that’s it. Nothing else.

On my Author Facebook page, I posted a vow that I would clean up my office. So much paperwork to sort out. Lots of it relates to family, and moving my mother from her home to assisted living made me realise how much junk many people have. We filled an enormous skip with things she couldn’t take with her. Clearing out Mum’s house was exhausting for me and for my husband.

I don’t want my son to have to deal with my junk when the time comes. At Christmas he presented me with archive-quality boxes and acid-free tissue paper to store precious old documents relating to our family, and a large reinforced one to hold a crumbling accordion brought to Australia by relatives in 1852. It’s fortunate that my son is interested in the family stories. I know that all relevant items will be cared for by him, down the track.

Lockdown 2020 has meant there’s been no excuse not to keep going with the junk removal. I’ve become ruthless, but gosh it’s taking a while to sort everything. Family items. Pages of research relating to the family tree. Some of that research inspired The Heart Has Its Reasons, my historical romance. Other stories are contained in these documents, just waiting to be brought to life. Books (so many books!). Copies of emails that began to accumulate quite a few years ago, after I tracked down a former penpal. We’d corresponded via snail mail for over a decade from the time we first connected at the age of ten. Since our reaquaintance, we’ve continued to write, for years now, exchanged gifts and cards, and visited each other. A big plus? She’s a published writer, too! But I can cull at least some of our correspondence.

What else is lurking in dusty corners? An old computer. Manuscripts that fizzled out. The many versions of others that didn’t. Magazines and newspapers containing articles I wrote years ago. Copies of a museum newsletter I helped produce. Photographs. Stationery. So much “stuff”!

Some items are easier to dispose of than others.

I attended the first conference of the Romance Writers of Australia, back in 1991. It’s an industry group I joined that same year. RWA has supplied information about writing, I’ve attended many annual conferences and, above all, my continuing membership of RWA has resulted in friendships and acquaintance with some wonderful authors. Locally, I’m friends with a great little group of dedicated writers that go by the name of “Hearts of Gold” or “Hogs”, formed under the auspices of RWA. If you wish to write, I highly recommend you find a group of writers working in your genre. As well as friendship, you’ll receive useful advice and critiquing, as well as shoulders to cry on when things go pear-shaped.

Another consequence of being a long-term member of RWA? I have every copy of the organisation’s newsletter, Hearts Talk. Do I toss them? No, I can’t bear to. At least they’re now in sequential order, and I’ve bequeathed them to the organisation. Something that should be easy for my son to organise when the time comes (one hopes that’s a long way off!).

As for the rest of the “stuff”? I’m hastening slowly. It’s a work in progress. After all, I have a manuscript to revise!

The Heart Has Its Reasons is available for ORDER by clicking this link



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