Feb. 25, 2008: To me, writing is like dropping an earring on a carpeted floor. Immediately you bend down to look for it, but what do you find? A tangled mess of hair, renegade dust bunnies, a cheerio or two? Not willing to admit defeat just yet, you continue your search, widening the parameters and expanding your discoveries: a previously lost bracelet, an old ticket stub, another cheerio. Each of these newly recovered treasures elicits memories previously forgotten: grandma giving you a bracelet on graduation day, the movie you saw on your first date with your middle school crush, the bowl of cereal you shared with your best friend as you talked her through her first break up. You are temporarily distracted by the warmth that comes from these memories, and you stay and bask a while. But distractions aside, you eventually press on and begin to use your hand as though it were a metal detector, brushing blindly over the carpeted expanse until your eye catches something; a glint under the bed. You take a few moments to maneuver yourself under there amidst the cobwebs and dust bunny colony until finally you feel its tiny metal body back in your hand again. Nothing beats finding that earring that you had secretly thought gone forever, but don’t forget that that’s only one possible ending. Never become so caught up in your search for the earring, that you neglect the other treasures you find along the way.
I began this year with the desire to clean out all the clutter and unnecessary stuff that seems to accumulate around me when I’m not paying attention. This desire usually crops up just after Christmas, when I return from spending time with my family and friends in the Bay Area with armfuls of new gifts, only to realize that I have no where to put them! Thus my winter cleaning spree began.
But this year I did not stop with my own personal belongings…my cleaning fever spread into my work life, and I attacked the tasting room with equal vigor and fervor (I work at Carina Cellars, a winery in Santa Ynez Valley, CA…www.carinacellars.com). During these past two weeks I emptied our storage closet and cleansed it of all obsolete objects, reorganized our entire inventory, moved furniture around, set up new displays, repainted walls, and my crowning glory…finally finished our bar (which had remained in a temporary-fix state for 6 years!) It’s amazing what you’ll find when you’re not really searching for any one thing in particular. For example I found the original paint used to paint the tasting room, allowing me the simple pleasure of a perfect match, and thus being able to touch up, rather than repaint all of our walls. We needed a new “Open” sign…I discovered we had two! When finished, we (my coworkers and I) took great pleasure in the fresh, new feeling created by my physical cleanse of the tasting room, a feeling which spread into a brainstorm of new marketing ideas, sales tactics and event ideas. These slight renovations breathed new life into our whole approach to our jobs, allowing us to feel excited about our work once again, rather than stuck in the slump of the “another year, another dollar” mentality.
But I didn’t stop there; I couldn’t! I was on a roll. All of my physical clutter-cleansing lead me inward, to go through old computer files and delete those unused bits of information to create room for new ideas and new files; I did this for both my work as well as my personal files. I finished with the work files in relatively no time at all – but the personal files took quite a bit longer. I found countless beginnings to stories that had yet to find their endings, snippets of ideas and thoughts waiting to be fleshed out, characters waiting patiently to be given tales to inhabit- all forgotten by me over time. I was excited to find that some of these lost thoughts actually fit perfectly into the novel I’m currently working on, and I even finished a couple of the poems!
But it was the last file I opened that I found to be most interesting. It was titled “Writer’s Block”, and once opened it contained only one paragraph, which I will share with you here: