The One Thing I Never Mind Cleaning Up

If you have children you have no choice: Your house will get messy. I have four of them. It’s difficult to keep order when there are four tornadoes living in your small home and each one decides to unload a different tub of toys.

But there is one mess I never mind picking up.

One that, instead of frustration, brings joy.

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Clara at one and a half

Books. I have thousands of them.

We have books in every room of our dwelling: in the kids’ room, in my bedroom, in the living room, basement, kitchen, and in a drawer in the bathroom.

Some of these paper and glue treasures are borrowed from the library. Some have been rescued from the discard/free bin in front of Lowry’s Books & More. Others were acquired at a library book sale, a friend’s book signing, inherited from our parents, purchased by impulse or because of college requirement.

My wife and I didn’t have a conversation about it but somehow books ended up on the bottom of our bookshelves, easily accessible to crawling babies and toddlers. Its almost as if the shelves are begging to be cleared off with one sweep of the arm. This occurs daily and is almost always followed by one of their smiles of immense satisfaction like you and I would have after a hard day of spring cleaning.

But my kids don’t just make messes with books.

Before they could even read I’ve found each one of my children in a room by themselves, by their own volition, flipping through a book. A pile lay all around and they sift through their favorites, looking at the pictures and occasionally making up the words using incoherent babble.

Here’s a few of the books my children have settled on recently.

Emily, my youngest and a proud eighteen months old, goes for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. It’s on my night stand. I admire the dense plotting at the end of this unfinished novel and she points to random words and emits screeches. Cute screeches.

Bobby, my third child a robust three and a half, carries armfuls, yes, armfuls of Spider-Man and Star Wars books around the house. His favorite is anything with black Spider-Man. He clarifies it is when he has the symbiote suit on not Venom. There’s a difference.

Clara, my second, a joyful five and a half, is currently learning how to read. I marvel at her willingness to trudge through books fit for second graders. She is eager to learn and is already reading astonishingly well. She loves the Finding Dory book a #2 reader she recently picked up from the library.

June, my oldest at seven and a half and most advanced reader, loves Elephant and Piggy Books, Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, and the Princess in Black series. I marvel at her confidence and vocabulary. Life goes so fast.

Some say books belong on shelves. A home is neat and tidy that way.

I am happy that our books rarely are.

How does your family incorporate books into daily life?

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Re-Vision Not Redraft

Lowry’s Books and More in Three Rivers Michigan is my favorite bookstore in the entire world. This is not because it is in my hometown, though that was convenient growing up, but because you can get lost in it. Imagine the wand shop in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but with endless scores of books.Bookshelf 2

While there last weekend, I picked up a book by Isaac and Janet Asimov – How to Enjoy Writing: A Book of Aid and Comfort. The cover is atrociously outdated but the content rich and filling.

One porting discusses the thrill of the revision process. Isaac explained that while writing a letter on his word processor the word ‘revision’ (alteration, correction) was hyphened to the next line and became re-vision meaning, to see anew.

This part of the book has been cemented in my mind while I consider revising one of novels. Not simply to redraft and revise which sounds arduous and monotonous but to see it anew. I write for the thrill of the thing not to bore myself out of my mind.

I plan to use this approach on my next draft. Ask what ifs of each scene and each chapter. Take a different road for a bit and see where that takes my characters.

This stirs excitement. I suppose writing is all how you look at it, just like anything in life. On my next draft, I am going to look at my book anew and have fun playing with it and, in other words, take joy in the process.

How about you? How do you see your books anew during your editing process?

Cheers,

Bob