Somehow, I thought I'd be further along in my quest to have no hidden spaces in my house. You know, those rooms you have to close off because they're such a disaster, those closets you can't open without something falling on your head, those drawers that hold things you can't even identify anymore? I've now been off work (i.e., retired, working from home) for almost six months, the longest amount of time I've been off work since I was fifteen years old. (I took six months off when my son Bryan was born - but I worked part-time the last three months of that maternity leave.) Somehow, I thought everything in the house would be organized by now.
Lots of improvements have been made, of course. We have a new roof, central heat and air for the first time, a new kitchen, a rearranged family room where I am finally able to have people over for dinner, where Ken can have people over to play music, where we can successfully entertain. But that back room, which, by the way, is my official IRS office, is still a disaster.
Thirty years of paperwork needs to be gone through and it's a daunting task. Some of the bins in that room contain books my son left, some contain little trinkets and keepsakes I want to turn into something valuable. Many of them contain scraps of paper that might seriously be worth keeping, that could turn into my next published story or something.
This isn't just conjecture, either. A few years ago I found a story that I had written over 20 years ago about an incident I overheard in a bar. I was watching my husband, Ken, play in a dart tournament when I overheard an argument between two strangers. One was a tall, blonde man, husky and obviously a construction worker - I assume this because he had a hammer on his belt. The other was a, small, thin, long-haired, dark-skinned man with classic American Indian cheekbones and nose. The construction worker had found some bones on a site and now had them on display in his house. The other man was horrified.
"You found a skull?" he said. "That could be the bones of my ancestors." That was it - all I needed to hear. I put the two guys together in a feroscious bar fight where the construction worker admitted he shouldn't have stolen the bones and together they went and dropped them back into the Okefenokee Swamp. Ta dum.
- Bones, Saw Palm, Florida Literature and Art, University of South Florida, published – first print issue and online, Summer 2009 (https://www.sawpalm.org/).
I've read the story twice on campus at UF. The second time, I was actually invited by the UF librarians, so that was quite flattering even though I hate to read my work aloud (Chronic Timidity Syndrome). And with any luck, this story will end up getting me into the Florida Folk Festival for free this year. I'm going to try to read it as part of their folklore program.
Writers should always write down any little scrap of inspiration that comes to them. You may have an idea you think is absolutely brilliant, but the next day, it will be gone. Ideas flit through your brain like wind through a live oak, leaving behind what you think is a substantial amount of Spanish moss. But when you try to pull the idea out, it breaks up in your hand and disappears. And that's true whether you are twenty or eighty.So I can't just randomly thrown out the stacks of paperwork. You never know what hidden gem may be in there. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!