Stuff And Nonsense

They're called storage boxes because they're for storing stuff, right?

They’re called storage boxes because they’re for storing stuff, right?

It may surprise you to know that I can be a bit of a hoarder. Even with all the moving I’ve done, there are still things that move from house to house in boxes and tubs then head straight into the loft or cupboards, unopened. Sure, some of them are sentimental items that I don’t want to get rid of, but there are plenty of boxes of other things that have no rhyme or reason as to why I need to keep them. Over the years I’ve become better at letting things go, and Marie Kondo’s Magic of Tidying inspired me to clear out a whole load more, but there is still enough in our attic to provide a whole layer of extra insulation for our house.

Because I might need it all one day, you see. I’m not sure where this sense of a potential post-apocalyptic world where I can no longer get linen napkins or random boxes of books has come from, but there it is. And I have, on occasion, been proven right. Many years ago, at a jumble sale in Sydney, I bought three decorative pierced wall plaques, obviously taken from an old home. I think I had an idea of hanging them on the wall as art, but it never happened. So they stayed wrapped in a box through subsequent moves back to Melbourne, to the South coast, and then to the UK. When we bought our most recent house, we redecorated and renovated it top to bottom (a process that’s still ongoing). A couple of the wall vents upstairs needed new covers – hey presto, my decorative panels finally found a use, fifteen years later.

I do wonder if my propensity to hang onto things is an extension of how I work creatively. I saw an interview with the late great David Bowie where he stated he was ‘a collector.’ That is, he collected ideas and images and details, which he then used as a starting point to create his own unique style. This was something that resonated with me. While I am by no means an artist of the stature of Bowie, I can relate to the idea of collecting. My Ambeth stories were inspired by a single incident that happened to me when I was a child, then embellished with other details drawn from my life, as well as drawing on the influence of fantasy writers before me, of places I’ve visited and things that I’ve done, living on as fragments of memory and dream. Other stories I have underway also draw on places and people and things that I’ve seen and done and held – collected imagery inserted into a whole new picture, held together with a new idea.

None of us create in a vacuum. We are all part of the same world, with access to the same ideas and images and places to visit. Yet each of us has our own vision of how we choose to interpret the things we encounter. It’s why some people are passionate about collecting thimbles, for example, while others search out concert wristbands, or eccentric hats. It is what speaks to us at our creative core.

So you see, all this stuff gathering dust in my attic isn’t junk. It’s art, right? At least, that’s what I’m going to tell my husband next time he asks…

25 thoughts on “Stuff And Nonsense

  1. I like your way of thinking about this. I’ve moved a lot myself, nine times in fifteen years, but I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t hold onto objects much. Rather, I collect things mentally. Words, quotes, scenes from movies, incidents in my own life, to the point where I can come up with a movie, book, or tv show reference for just about everything. (Seriously, you’d be surprised how many Smeagol quotes are applicable to daily life.) I remember as many details as I can about as many things as I can because, like you said, you just never know when you’ll need them.

    • Thanks Natasha – and I’m always partial to a good Smeagol quote 🙂 Anything from LOTR, really. And yes, that’s similar to the process I go through as well, collecting bits and pieces of things that appeal to me. Now if only I could get rid of some of my other bits and pieces…

      • Anything from LOTR, YESS!!! Confession time– I haven’t actually finished the Two Towers yet. My squirrel reading got the better of me. But I will finish it at some point when my books are unpacked. 😛

        Hah, yeah. Always some bits and pieces you can’t seem to get rid of. 😛

      • ‘Squirrel reading’ I love that 😀 I usually have three or four books on the go, but I do make an effort to finish them all, especially if I’m caught up in the story. Though my reading time is scarce of late, so I do need to catch up!
        And I haven’t read LOTR in years – I must dig out my copy for another read through.

      • Hah, yeah, I’m pretty sure I wrote a blog post about that on Memoirs of a Taleweaver. 😛 Or maybe it was only plot bunnies. Not certain. But I hear you on being behind on your reading. Between having worked in a camp kitchen, living in a construction site, and trying to keep up with my writing, I (very sadly) haven’t gotten much reading time in recently. But I did get a couple books in the mail today, so maybe I’ll get to soon!

        And definitely. LOTR is one of those books you can’t read enough times. 😀

      • I think I saw that post when I wandered over to your site the other day 🙂 It was squirrel reading, but now I need to go find the one about plot bunnies!
        And I hope you do get some reading time in as well – I’m finding these days I need to schedule it in, or else I’ll never get round to it.

      • Haha, okay! Can’t promise it’ll be anything splendid. I think it was like the second post I wrote. 😛

        I probably should schedule it for myself, too. I’m not very good at schedules, but it’s something I’ll have to figure out sometime. 😛

  2. I’m the opposite! I ‘clear the clutter’ regularly. Fortunately it only happens very rarely that I go hunting for something I believe I still own, only to realise that it has long since left the house in a carrier bag destined for a charity shop.

    • Oh, you’re good, Jools – I wish I could be the same way. I have got rid of a lot of stuff over the years, especially each time we’ve moved. Yet I still seem to have loads! First world problems, I guess – I feel another big clearout coming on 🙂

  3. Good on you for keeping all your treasures, especially with all the moving house and country that you’ve done. I’ve discarded so many of my treasures, through moves, and some inadvertently lost. I think all art comes from things we’ve collected—whether it be something tangible or a memory. I love that Ambeth comes from a childhood memory. Similar with Ida—she’s formed from childhood memories and family stories but, as with yours, changed and twisted so they’re virtually unrecognisable. x

    • Thanks, Louise – I’ve discarded a fair few treasures too, things I sometimes think of and wish I’d kept. But I’ve not done too badly, especially with all the moving.
      And the more I hear about Ida, the more I want to read about her! 🙂

  4. I’ve decided to start collecting snow globes – just because there’s something fascinating about those miniature worlds. Other than that I don’t have much “collector’s stuff”, but of course I have an extensive book collection. Are they maybe the same thing?

    • Well, there are plenty of miniature worlds inside books as well so yes, I would say they’re definitely the same thing 🙂 And I love snowglobes too, there’s something very pure and magical about them. Happy collecting!

  5. Of course it’s not junk!! All your stuff is for creative artistic purposes and like you inspiration comes form the most unexpected places. Old letters and diaries are very good too. Interesting to read about a childhood experience being the inspiraiton for one of your books.

  6. I’m the same way. It can get pretty bad. I’m looking up Marie Kondo’s book. Sometimes I miss things and wish I hadn’t gotten rid of them, other times, it doesn’t bother me a bit (after a few years). 😉

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