Sunday afternoons at the dump are one of those spring activities that feel righteous. Our local dump is not a landfill – it’s a recycling center, everything from scrap metal to styrofoam. I learned last month that styrofoam is compressed to make decking material. Okay. This can be good but what happens to the material when the deck is surplus to need?
DR and I are recycling material at an enormous rate, even though the house still presents an appearance of being over-stuffed. We are on seven levels and that means a lot of room for storing memorabilia. I am finding boxes and folders of my mother’s letters – she too was a prolific writer. Her stories of her experiences in World War II inspired Parachutes & Petticoats, the collection of women’s autobiographical writing that I edited with Deirdre Beddoe. My mother’s stories were not included because although I was the editor, she had no connection with Wales.
I edited and published her WWII stories privately for the family in honor of her 90th birthday. When writing for one’s family, there is always a danger that how you tell the story will cause deep offense. I was fortunate that my mother had herself written the stories – my part was to research some of the background and occasionally correct her dyslexic spelling. I can show the siblings the manuscript at any time but they seemed to have been happy.
This brings me back to the dump, curiously! If you watch NCIS, you may have seen the episode of the shredder – Thom Geocity? Or is it Thim? Anyway, he shreds page after page of one word or two lines and drives his neighbor mad – excessively wasteful of paper and therefore a precious resource – can’t he just x it all out or strike through? However, I had a delightful few hours – once I had finished the final draft of my third novel – shredding every scrap of the original manuscript.
This had hung around me like a shroud for years. I couldn’t part with it but I also couldn’t bear to keep it. Shredding that was a bolt for freedom. I need to do the same with Salvation, eventually. But as you may have seen from earlier entries, I am having procrastination issues with finishing this book.
Today was the dump and clearing the gentleman’s wardrobe of my journals and notebooks so that DR can shift it out of his way to strip the wallpaper in my office. The difficulty of writing in this atmosphere of home redecoration is only a convenient excuse. The other, more honest, reasons concern finding the completion of a fourth novel demands a soul-searching exercise when you have yet to publish one.