Sunday 28 January 2018

Sorting is freedom

Imagine you have a brilliant idea for a story you want to write. You grab a notebook and fill it up with all of these things you want in your story. Your notebook is soon full, so you grab a second notebook, and then a third.

Eventually the project becomes huge and you decide that you're going to start over on a computer, because that's more efficient and then you can also scroll through your notes easier. So you start writing it down a second time. In the process you realise you want to go in a different direction so you start rewriting your story.

You know your notes will eventually come in handy, because even if you go in a different direction, you have some good world building in there, and family trees and stuff, so you keep your notebooks in a box and plan to one day transfer all the notes to the computer.

You do some research, which you write down in a fourth notebook and stow away with the three others in that box. Then you go on a vacation and come back with another notebook of new ideas, a new-new direction of your story. You store that with the four others, thinking you'll eventually collect all your notes on the computer.

Through the years you accumulate more and more notes of your new direction, your new-new direction, and your new-new-new direction, while simultaneously working on the computer, never really glancing back. Soon, you have no idea what the original notes were about anymore, you just know you saved them for a good reason. One day you'll go through it all. Maybe you'll find the perfect ending to your story hidden away in that dusty old box of notebooks?

But, eventually, your huge amount of notes in your box of notebooks overwhelms you so much that you feel reluctant to finish the story, because that would mean going through the box to merge the notes and the story. Instead, you quit writing.

Several years later, after staring at the box of mysterious notes, you finally take the bull by the horn and return to the story. You look at your word documents, and you start looking at your old notes, and  then you discover the horrible truth; the notes contain no perfect ending to your story, there is no hidden answers to your current story problem, the notes lost their usefulness a long time ago as the story changed.

As you start ripping out page after page of text, you feel lighter, and lighter, like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Like you're finally free.

When the notes are gone, you're finally free to move on with your story. There's nothing holding you back, there's nothing you've forgotten to think about. You're finally able to focus on what's really important.

For me, that's what sorting does. It gives me focus. It gives me an overview. I know what I have. I know that there isn't any old stuff I've forgotten to think about. I know what has a place in my story, what has a place in my home.

Sorting is freedom.

So, in the immortal words of Kylo Ren:
"Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That's the only way to become what you're meant to be."

More on this subject later.


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