One of the things I really enjoyed about reading Sweater Quest was the various discussions around knitting and knitting philosophy. I think you can find universal truths everywhere and I am always looking for them. Something that the Knit Harlot said in it was that she loved how nothing really terrible can happen when you knit. She says the worst thing is you set out with a ball of yarn to knit a sweater, and you end up with a ball of yarn (no sweater). You still have your ball of yarn. I like that. And it’s helped me move beyond perfectionism about the first jumper I’m currently knitting. It’s not perfect. It looks handmade. That’s because it is. And it’s not the last thing I will ever knit, I will get better and more than that, the jumper will eventually get worn and then worn out and I’ll part with it. It’s the circle of (knitted) life.
But I liked the idea that … you know … if you never do anything because you’re so scared of it not being perfectly executed, then you will never do anything. And how is that better? And this turns out to be a really good way to break through paralysis or roadblocks. Or in other words, sometimes a decision is better than the right decision, especially when you no longer fear failure. What’s the worst thing that can happen when you execute an idea (especially when it’s not a life or death one) and it doesn’t work out?
I’m starting to feel like I’m making headway on things that have been hard to conquer in the past. And it turns out, that with progress on any of these, the most effective thing has been consistency. So I’ve been very slowly, every day, working on culling and decluttering. And some days it might only be one or two things but will power is a muscle – it gets stronger the more you use it. It gets easier to cull and part with things the more often and regularly you do it. And I used to know this, I just got out of practice. I have now almost completely cleared out the “to donate or sell” corner of stuff I had piled when unpacking. I have slowly been taking it in small shopping bags, now and again, to charity bins (there aren’t many near our place so I have to do it when I go up to Perth). Today, I made the decision that selling my culled books on eBay was not worth it and, after the discussion with the secondhand bookstore owner yesterday, I decided to donate them. Today, I took all those not currently up on eBay, and also some craft kits that I was planning on selling, and donated them. And it felt AWESOME! I parted with stash and I parted with book collection and the world didn’t end and I feel more free! I am loving the cleared space – the space that I know used to be filled with things that made me feel bad and guilty.
And I went a step further. Whilst I was procrastinating on making a decision about something else (I did, in the end, just make one and moved on), I decided to sort my To Be Read bookcase in my bedroom. I decided to shelve the books by genre since I feel like I am more of a reader who feels like genre (so I might feel in the mood for YA, a short story or nonfiction). I took them all out to sort and as I did so, I did the kind of “airing of the stash” thing that knitters do. I looked at each book. And I decided that some of them I didn’t actually want to read, that if I was in the middle of one and hadn’t gone back to it in over a year, then it was ok to not force myself to finish it just to say I had but rather to just … NOT! OMG I feel AWESOME having given myself the permission to not finish books I’m not enjoying. I kind of want to (and am) start looking at reading like Simon from The Readers Podcast – he’s reading like it’s the Apocalypse. And seriously, if you think, hey I might only have this year left to read, do I want this book to be one of those?, it’s amazing how much easier deciding not to finish or read something becomes. Guilt free!
And I decided to cull my TBR bookcase to only contain books I honestly see myself reading in the next year or two. And the rest I took out. That makes this bookcase much less guilt making with the books I feel I *should* be reading and more with the enticing here’s the books I *want* to read, which shall I read next? excitement. Aka how reading should be. And I’m going to be totally ok now with shelving unread books back into my general collection – that is, books that I want to read *at some point*. If I genuinely want to read something, and I feel in the mood for it, then I am perfectly capable of going and finding that book to read. So now I feel happier about sorting and culling the general collection and then having everything shelved by genre etc. Read and unread mingled. Because what is definitely worse than read and unread books co-mingling, is not being able to find any of the books you own exactly at the minute you want to find them. It especially applies to books like short story collections or nonfiction, which I really see as “own with intent” – books I want to own and intend one day to read, or to refer to.
And all of this has had me thinking about craft stash. And other perishable things (like gift soaps etc). I think I have gotten to a place where I don’t know what happens if you use the stash. I was rummaging in the stash on Saturday night (where, OMG I think I found evidence of moths OMG) and happened upon a very delicious hank of yarn I had forgotten I’d bought – Socks that Rock in Stormy Weather (it’s a gorgeous spectrum of greys). And I thought, hey that might be great for a new scarf – I need some lacy, lovely scarves now that I work back in the city, total scarf wearing for decoration type attire requirements. And my next thought was, but I bought that for socks and I also really want a pair of socks in that colourway. And I think that’s where an obstacle comes up for me. I could knit the skein and buy a new one. Or I could knit the skein and knit myself a pair of socks in a different colourway. Or whatever. But I literally couldn’t think past the idea of actually using up my stash. That I like the stash and don’t know what I would do if I actually worked through it – this concept is not one I am comfortable with. When in reality, working through the stash would make me happy by a) knitting, which I love b) turning lovely skeins into lovely wearable possessions for me or for gifts and c) free me from guilt about buying new yarn. Yet this is still not something I feel comfortable with.
And I wonder if this is a similar thing at play with my TBR. Working through it would mean I would have to go out there and find new books to read (note, I have no problem impulse buying books). There is something comfortable at being familiar with what you have yet still to do. That and, I always feel like I need brain energy to switch into reading a new book – new writing, new concepts, new worlds to get used to. I suspect though, that this is just a reading muscle that needs to get flexed to build strength again. Hence the encouragement of reading what I feel like reading and maybe reviewing them here to a) mark the read books b) validate book choices beyond the peer pressure and c) getting back comfortable at review
Tags: book collecton, books, culling, decluttering, reading, stash