An archivist’s dream.

Hello and happy bunny day to all you Easter-minded ink splAters. Hello and happy long weekend to ink splAters of non-bunny-loving denominations.

Well, it’s spring. Aside from being able to run outside again (yay!), and the looming joy that is graduation, spring means cleaning. This year the cleaning has taken on a bit of a morbid mood in my house.

My sister and her boyfriend are moving out, so family heirlooms and take-with-able inheritance items are being identified and divvied between us. This is actually fun. In the past couple of days I’ve amassed an impressive collection of cutlery, crystal, and cookbooks.  My favorite, The New Delineator Cookbook, was given as a gift to my great-grandma on my Dad’s side in 1929. I looked it up…to collectors it’s worth a whopping $20 now. But its real worth – and the worth of the collection of my ancestor’s books – is the legitimacy these old, worn, written-in cookbooks will lend to my kitchen. They’ll stand in sharp contrast to the newest version of The Best of Bridge and The New Moosewood Cookbook on my recipe shelf. In a few days I’ll post pictures of these old but new-to-me treasures.

The morbid part of the sorting  was the stack of things that my mum asked us to choose our favorites from,  but which we won’t be getting “until after your dad and I die.” I have to say, I felt a little creepy with that process.

SPRING SORTING

Going through household treasures inspired me to make an attempt at organizing my personal piles of junk. I try to keep my work and school life highly scheduled and organized – successfully I’d say – but my living space is a complete disaster. My bookshelves have overflowed to the point that I keep piles of books on my floor (though they are stacked alphabetically and by genre). Loose paper is my real issue. Like any budding writer worthy of the title, I have a tendency use a lot of paper. Musings, stories, assignment brainstorms, old essays, scribbles, collages, notes, mail, to-do lists… these scraps flood my life. To “solve” this problem, I took all my papers and put them into one giant keeper, so I would be able to sort through them all at once. But what actually happened was that I kept adding papers to the keeper until I needed two keepers and while there was less mess scattered about, old assignments and specific stories became rather impossible and daunting to find. So Friday saw me haul the original giant bin down to the living room, where there is ample sorting space, and spend the next while weeding my collected documents down to the essential.

I did a fairly good job I think, assisted in part by the realization that my last week of classes is next week and I likely won’t need 95 per cent of the handouts from the last two years. (School stuff that made the cut: photoshop notes; PR notes; journalism streeters from first year; broadcasting budgeting notes; and one page of radio notes that had some really impressive scribbles.)

ARCHIVES

I couldn’t help but keep anything even vaguely connected to creative writing, and for a good – if ambitious – reason. On Thursday, my creative writing class visited the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Manitoba. We got to root through the correspondence, notes, and drafts of a bunch of authors. This collection of papers included some flirtatious letters to an author soon-to-be married (from a couple of other women), and an email chain between another author and her dry cleaner.

Visiting this place was enlightening. I learned that if you have even moderate success as an author, someday students might want to write essays and theses on you. If that is likely to happen, libraries might be interested in collecting the piles and piles of writing you’ve done over your lifetime, sorting it for relevance, and making it available for the world to access. CRAZY.

Thus, I couldn’t make myself throw out the six printed drafts I have of my novel from July to September (even though I have them saved by date on my computer). Also, I’ve been given a new excuse to keep my terrible middle school writings. One day, they may amount to a tax break. Excellent.

Eat chocolate.

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