Monday, September 15, 2014

Paper, Paper Everywhere

Last Friday, faced with a weekend, and wondering what to do, I weighed my options. Writing was high on the list. I had just taken five days off from writing. Maybe it was time to get back to it. Or, with the weather forecast to be nice, and with my knee somewhat improved, perhaps I should go outside on Saturday and get back to cutting up the wood from the late spring tree topping. That would be both exercise and productivity. It would depend, of course, on how well my knee felt Saturday morning.

Then I thought about the piles and piles of paper I have seemingly everywhere in the house. Most of it is downstairs, in The Dungeon, or perhaps tucked away in file cabinets—out is sight, but in mind as a drawer full of paper. On the floor of The Dungeon were several piles of unfinished projects. In a tray on the work table were months and months of financial papers to be filed. Elsewhere on the work table were lots of writing papers, crying out for attention.

So Friday I made the decision that the weekend would primarily be one of tending to long-neglected papers. A little wood sawing if possible, but mainly papers. Saturday morning dawned with the temperature at 49, and cloudy, but no rain. Perfect for outside work. Except my knee seemed much worse than the last couple of days. I made the command decision to forego outside work. I went to my reading chair and fell asleep. An hour later I woke up when Lynda got up. Before long I was heading downstairs to The Dungeon.

I decided to tackle the bills filing first. I hadn't done much filing at all in 2014, and what I had done was quite random. Enough bills had piled up that I first took an hour to sort them and put them chronologically. Then I began filing. The utilities were easy, so I started with them. I decided that, since this was a major filing effort, I would take the time to make sure everything was in the right order, and to cull through the files to get rid of some of the older items, say more than three years old. From the utilities I went to the mortgage, then to miscellaneous repairs, then to a few oddball items. I was then ready to tackle medical records.

I've never been satisfied with the filing of medical records. It's becoming more critical now that we're older and have more records to keep track of. So I took a little time to brainstorm and think about how to file them. I decided on a way to change them up a bit, and did so for 2014. Whether I go back and reorganize prior years I'm not sure. The medical records took a long time, especially since my file drawer was over-stuffed, and I needed to move some things to archive storage. I did that, and the medical records were complete and back where they belonged. Somewhere along the way I took a quick break for lunch.

That left our stock trading papers, writing papers, and some tax papers of ours and of my mother-in-law. The stock papers were most important. I took a lot of time with those, as they must be sorted into three accounts, and then filed under three or four different tabs. Keeping them in correct chronological order is important. So that all took some time, but I finished it. Well, except for later when I found a few that were in a place I hadn't seen. They are now resting in the filing tray, waiting on my next time. I shifted to the tax papers. I really only had a few of mine, and took care of them quickly. For my m-i-l's, I decided to do a major culling of older ones to free up file drawer space. So anything older than 2009 I threw a lot of stuff out.

By the end of the day, I felt really good about what I had accomplished. My back hurt, probably more than if I'd spent the time sawing logs. The Dungeon didn't look all that much better, because of the writing papers. That would be a Sunday task, I decided, and called it quits.

Sunday, after church, eating with Lynda's mom, and a short nap (not more than 1/2 hour), I get after the writing papers. It was a major task. Some time ago I was in a writing seminar with David Morrell (author of First Blood, creator of Rambo). He said to save all your drafts of you books, box them up along with research papers, correspondence, whatever, and set them aside for eventual donation to wherever you donate your writing papers in the future. I had done this with Doctor Luke's Assistant, my first novel, and had a file drawer full of them. With later books I had been less careful at saving drafts, because I saw exactly how much space DLA drafts had taken.

I made the decision that most likely no institution is going to want my donated papers, and the drafts would have to go. So I got to work with sorting, bagging for recycling, and filing. Three hours later I was amazed at what I had accomplished. Four plastic grocery bags sat on the stairs, full of old office paper, waiting to be carried up and put in the garage for recycling. Forty of fifty pounds of paper. A stack 18 inches high. And almost all other writing papers were in a file somewhere. Some of those may find themselves part of a future culling, but for now they are out of the way.

I don't know that The Dungeon looks a whole lot better. Maybe a little. I still have a couple of piles of things I didn't get to. These are, I think, mostly printouts of books/articles for reference, or maybe something I critiqued for someone. I think half of it is for discards, and half is for filing in a retrievable manner. I also have a pile of file folders and manila envelopes on the floor of the storage room, freed up for other use now that they no longer hold the DLA drafts. Tonight I'll have to sort them and do the discard/storage thing again.

All in all, this was a good effort. A couple of more hours on the last piles, putting the tax forms back in the drawer, and a little rearranging, and I'll have a more efficient and more usable work space. I don't know when I'll get back to writing, but for now, I think the time spent away from it has been well spent.


storyweaver said...

Hello Dave, I guess somewhere along this tech. route I thought you dropped this blog for your other one so I haven't been reading it. (Mainly because I didn't think it existed any more.) Anyway, one note on your newly found sister. I'm sure I have another one over in England from things Jody often suspected from conversations with Gil. This wasn't common years ago as it is now or accepted so I understand your shock. Maybe its a new family connection. BTW I never see anything about Norma, is she still living? And I am pooped just from reading about your paper shuffling. Take care.

David A. Todd said...

Norma is still alive, Sue. She lives a very private life, doesn't go on-line herself, and prefers nothing really be said about her on-line, so I don't.

storyweaver said...

well, I'm glad that she is okay. I certainly understand wanting the world to leave you alone sometimes. I find that I'm content to live quietly.. but then I've never been one to put myself in the forefront either. I think that's why I write. It gives me places I can go where no one can rearrange my world but me.