Unpacking, Packing, Unpacking … How Not to Deal With “Stuff”

Unpacking, Packing, Unpacking … How Not to Deal With “Stuff”

We’re back in San Miguel de Allende, back from the beach. It’s always wonderful to come home, but I miss the heat and the sound of the surf. I miss the enchantment of sunsets.


I’m sitting now in my office with my favourite coffee mug on the table beside me and my computer on my lap. I soon must get back to working on Draft 5 of The Game of Hope.

But first: it’s time to go through our photos, is it not? Here’s a panorama stitched together with DoubleTake software:

Panoramic with DoubleTake (smaller)

As I slowly get my office back in order—unpacking, finding the cords, the stacks of Things To Do—I tell myself that now is the time to be selective: throw things out. And so I try: one, maybe two truly-useless things get pitched, but only after great deliberation. Hopeless!

Have you watched this Seinfeld video on “Too Much Stuff“? He’s “congratulating” everyone in the audience for having won a flat-screen TV:


Talk about stuff! Will Self’s writing room: hard to imagine.

Will Self's writing room

Coincidently, I use his book Psycho Geography as a mouse pad.

On Reading, Writing & Taking an On-line course: Getting Things Done to the Sound of the Surf

On Reading, Writing & Taking an On-line course: Getting Things Done to the Sound of the Surf

My husband and I have been staying in one of our favourite spots, a Solecito casita on beautiful Playa Blanca on the Mexican Pacific coast. (Our casita: the one shown above.)

It’s a totally relaxing time for us, and—surprisingly—one of the pleasures, for me, is that I get quite a bit done:

• I edited the 4th draft of The Game of Hope and began draft 5.

Sat Night

• I read a lot, likely because I’m reading on my little Kindle, and not on the Kindle app on my Net-connected iPad.

• I finished THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS by Michel Faber (my first Sci-Fi), and am close to finishing THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT by Heather O’Neill. (Delightful! I have previously read and very much enjoyed LULLABIES FOR LITTLE CRIMINALS.) I’m still reading and highly recommend Publishing 101 by Jane Friedman as well as various research books.

• I read a pdf of wonderful novel that I gave a rave quote for … I’ll have more to say on this book when it is published in March.


• I listened to a wonderful audible recording of ALL THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT SEE, a novel by Anthony Doerr that was on virtually every “best of 2014” book list.

Coursera.org: How to Learn

I caught up on the video lectures of a Coursera course I’m taking on how to learn. (You can watch them here.)

Why am I following this course? Because I am determined to become more conversant in both French and Spanish. (In fact, as I go for my daily walk on the beach, I listen to French tapes.)

My research method

This course has got me reconsidering my writing research method. I used to write notes out by hand. Now I prefer highlighting passages on Kindle and sending these to Evernote—knowing that I can always find the information should I need it.

Effortless! Right?

Not exactly. Evernote is great, but the trouble is: when I look for something on Evernote, I find the mass of notes overwhelming. It’s not that functional system for me, in truth, and I’ve long had a hunch that writing down notes by hand was more effective. This Coursera course has confirmed the importance of approaching information through different media.

Another problem I have is resistance to organizing my research. I’m content to cruse the Net, buy new books, read and highlight them, but I’m somewhat scattered and slapdash about it, in truth.


This course has reminded me of the value of the Pomodoro approach: setting a timer for 25 minutes of focussed distraction-free (i.e. Net-free) period of time.

It has also reminded me of the key importance of review: and this is where note-taking comes in.

The course also emphasises how important relaxation is to learning. And so … to the hammock.