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My husband is talented with color, a paintbrush and a shovel. In our garden he researches where the sun falls around our house, the health of the soil, and the other trees and plants near a new bed that he is considering, before he plants, before he digs. If a certain plant fails to thrive one year, he may dig it up and place it somewhere new. It’s like cutting and pasting.
One year he painted our family room under pressure because we would be having an ‘after the wedding celebration’ for our daughter. I quietly watched as he covered the walls with new color. I silently thought, “I just don’t think….” I stood there silently reading what this new shade did to our room that I loved. I was upset inside, and I just knew that he felt the same way. After this room in our house was finished, I thought, “We are just going to have to live with it for a while”. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him… an editor I am not.
Two years later, I did have the courage and he admitted that he hated it too. We picked a new color out, painted it on a giant cardboard box and held it around the room in the different lights. Ahh, satisfaction, at last. After we got the right paint, a few accessories were also added ; they also brought new richness and pleasure.
I have never felt like redecorating was my passion, however when I got to pick out all of my own choices for my office, added my books, my framed family pictures, I could put my feet up and write and read for hours on end. I am content and feel alive inside. Environment matters, choice matters.
Some of the grim reality is this, I like to keep and hold on tightly to my mess, and is achingly hard for me to take things out and clean things up, even in this beautiful room that brings me great pleasure. For an example, all my books, papers and notes from the fall class that I taught on assessment are sitting right in front of me. It hurts my vision and it nags and begs to be cleaned up, filed away or just thrown out. It is hard work for me, extremely hard work for me to redecorate in this way. I hate throwing out papers, lessons and words.
Last week I pleaded with Dave, “Won’t you just please come up to my office and clean it and figure it out for me, figure out where I should put everything? ” I told him, I would pay him for it.
He sighed and said, “Why can’t you just do a little at a time, a little every day?” He is right, getting started is half the battle for me. Inside I know how happy I will be when it is done and the accomplishment I will also feel when I unload what isn’t necessary.
One of the reasons I love the Slice writing that we do every week is this: I have decided to look at my writing for this blog as my first draft. Ruth Ayres has talked about this on a post titled Best 1st Draft. It is much easier to do our best first drafts in this new era of the computers, however, I guess I am curious about how many ‘slicers’ still prefer to compose using paper and pen. I really don’t think that I would be able to complete as much writing without my laptop. It is a mysterious and beautiful connection that I have with the keys. I most definitely rather redecorate my posts and my life in this way, even though it is still such hard and personal work.
Now I am going to start with something that I can do right now, take what isn’t necessary out of this slice. I will probably paste it in another draft to be explored at another time…or maybe not. This is a true fact, ‘redecorating or revision’ is not easy for me, but I know that when it is my story, I’d much rather do it myself!
PS I’m pretty excited because I made the redecorating analogy with my fourth graders. They are diving in with passion. I am so excited…writing workshop is such an amazing and colorful place to live in. 🙂