morning sun on books and clay (the art of simplifying)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

On Sunday afternoon, my husband and I sorted through the last of the tools in my father's house, leaving that beautiful home virtually empty—a year-long odyssey of epic proportions.

Once back at my own house, I began to do what had long needed to be done. There had been books in piles everywhere. Books in bins. Stories I couldn't write because of all the mental and physical clutter. The quantities of things were overwhelming. Simplifying meant taking some 450 books from this little house—driving many bags of them straight to The Spiral Bookcase in Manayunk, an independent that specializes in books both new and old and that is run by the generous Ann Tetreault.

While my husband built our new bookcase, I carried the remaining books—these books, oh these books—from room to room. I decided: Novels and nonfiction on one wall in the family room. Picture books, middle grade books, young adult novels, and all things Horace Kephart and Daniel D'Imperio (my great grandfather and beloved uncle) on the other family room wall. Poems and journals in the case to the left in my office. Grammar, reference, and natural history books in the case to the right. My own stuff (the books, the anthologies, the literary magazines, and a few favorite corporate projects) in the shelves to the left of my desk, overseen by my muse, the giraffe, who came all the way from Africa to be with me and whose name is She. She has been worried about me lately. She's more at peace now.

And then, in the new bookshelves in the room we have officially christened the "Juncture Workshop" room, the memoirs, the essay collections, the hybrid novels/memoirs, my Tin House collection, and those novels by authors whose work I have collected in multiples. A few pieces of clay that Bill and I have jointly made (he throws the shapes, I glaze). My four bright binders stuffed with teachable memoir excerpts and essays—all the material that will inspire those five-day workshops on a farm and by the sea. And room for the many books yet to come.

I feel lighter, less bundled up inside my own head, more ready for whatever is next, anticipatorily efficient. Just a few days ago, I had to dig through triple-stacked shelves or those heavy, bottomless bins to find the book I needed. Over the past year, I bought multiple copies of books I already had, because I could never find the original source. I bought way too many e-books (I'm not the biggest fan of e-books) because the boats of books had swelled.

I'm breathing now.


Michael G-G said...

You have inspired me to tackle my own books in bins!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Your office, your collections look stunning. I love books. I'm a fan of the physical form of stories in books. And I'm in need of some organization, too. So glad you are at peace now. All the best!

Sharon Lippincott said...

Brave. Very brave. And think how many others will benefit from your offload.

Katrina said...

Inspired! I'm breathing too, and ready to some re-arranging here, thanks to you. And I'm so delighted to read more about this new chapter in your life.

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