Saturday, November 20, 2010

Set A Date To Start

Spent all of today clearing out my dad's apartment. He was a packrat, and a book freak. My job was packing and sorting and arranging books so that they could be viewed easily by the book guy. The book guy will probably not be able to take them all - possibly not even most - because everybody is selling their books now, and nobody is buying. But he is going to help find alternate places to take them before the lease is up on the apartment. (He knew my dad. When I gave him my name and said I had an apartment full of books to find a home for, he said "I bet lots of them are in French." And I said "and most of them came from your store in the first place.")

Anyway, when I stuck my head up for air today, I took a gander at the calendar, and discovered that my days are completely booked up until the end of the month. I was, however, reminded of a bit of wisdom I learned when I was in film school - a bit of advice a guerilla filmmaker passed on to us, which he had got from a mentor of his.

"Set a date to start."

Filmmaking, especially guerilla filmmaking, requires a lot of preparation. An endless amount of it, actually. Writers may need to do a little plotting and research, but filmmakers have to arrange for budgets and casts and schedules and weather and props and crew and permits and rentals and just a whole lot of stuff. And it never ends.

Sorta like life.

You have to do that stuff. You can't just let it go completely. However, because it never will end on its own, you also have to decide in advance how much is "enough" and put a cap on it.

So when you have an overwhelming pile of kerfuffle to deal with, the key is to accept that you can't do everything, and give yourself some breathing space to do it... and then put a cap on it and set a date to get back to writing. For me, the date will be December 1.

In the meantime, I think I have the seed for the plot of my next George and Karla mystery. It will involve the clearing out the stuff left behind after a long and interesting life.


Kathydid47 said...

Oh ouch....that must have been a hard thing for you to do....going thru his thing about your dad.....he was brilliant at organizing all that stuff! I was always impressed by how well he fit sooo much stuff into such a small space! My hubby is a packrat extraordinaire but I'm crap at organizing it! I'm hoping my daughter living at home this year will improve my she's great at organizing so hopefully she'll get us in shape. I don't want her dealing with the stuff after I pass.

One of my most relaxing days was hanging out with your dad a couple months ago. We went to all his favorite charity shops and used book stores that I didn't know existed, then I took him to a few that he didn't know about. Then to El Azteco for good Mexican food & beer! A really lovely memory that I cherish! He had talked to Ray that day about coming over to buy some of his books. He told me he had a feeling he was going to die soon, but I really didn't want to believe it because he seemed so fit. He also added that he didn't fear death, but he did want to unload some things before it happened. I hate it that he was right.

He was instrumental in my converting from being a crazy conservative, to a now still crazy (of course, because some things just cannot be changed) liberal. Of course, it took living with a Marxist family in England on the Isle of Wight a few months to push me over the edge into political sanity, or insanity if you're my husband!!!! At any rate, I am so grateful to have known and learned so much from your dad! He was a one of a kind friend and teacher! The world is better because of him and you can't ask for more than that!
Kathy Dittmer

The Daring Novelist said...

Kathy, thanks for both your posts. I saw the other one, but I was tired and not ready to answer.

I'm so glad you had those good times with him before he went. (And I'm sure he would be pleased and satisfied to know he had hauled he world a little further to the left.) He was a great teacher, and he enjoyed the thing he loved thoroughly.