Writer or Hoarder?

My latest literary venture involves a character who’s a hoarder and I’ve had the most difficult time getting information about this person together. My usual style of banging it out on the computer will not cut it. It seems I have to live a little of the hoarding to get the character right. (Hey, I’m Daniel Day Lewis.)

I’ve found that jotting notes down on scraps of paper work best. And these are any scraps at any time. Receipts, PTA flyers, envelopes. I managed to snatch a mini spiral just so I could keep most of the notes in one spot. Now I’m frantic that I’ll…

A) Lose them

B) Not be able to make any sense of them

So in true loner-living-in-a-cabin style, I grabbed a big notebook and began transcribing. It’s taking forever because at this point I have pages of notes scattered across a few different notebooks. What keeps circling back in my brain is whether I should write it down at all.

I’m a lister. That’s what I do. I like to make lists and notes. However, I often don’t check them. I find just making the list is enough. Same with writing. I often jot down all these details and then hardly look at them. Though I usually need them to get names and dates straight in the manuscript.

Stephen King once said that any idea you need to write down, can’t be a good idea. His thoughts are: If it’s truly captivating, you’ll recall most of it when the time comes.

I’m sorry, Mr. King, but I love to write it down. Mostly because I have snippets of conversation or thoughts that I want to preserve.

The only other interesting thing about my transcription process is the number of delays that have arisen. It seems that almost every time I sit down to work on the notes, something distracts me. A friend’s apartment flood and she needs my help (legit). It’s back to school night at my daughter’s school. I’m dead tired and pass out as I open the book. Or are these simply the hoarders way to put off the inevitable?

Still, I persevere. I yearn to organize these notes the way my character (the hoarder) can’t.

Tim Kane

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9 comments on “Writer or Hoarder?

  1. Sounds like you’re becoming a hoarder to me! lol

    If pack rats can be considered hoarders, then I could probably be classified as such. I have lists all over the house. If I didn’t, I’d forget so much, whether it’s something to do with my writing or shopping or just stuff that needs to get done. Anyone who says computers and e-books etc will plummet us into a paperless society are off their rocker. It seems to me that the piles of paper in my house are getting higher instead of smaller and although I’ve gone to great lengths to overcome them by sorting and putting them in files and book shelves (and recycling bin), there is still a lot that can be considered ‘unclassified’.

    In saying that, I can unequivocally say that, considering what you’ve just written about YOUR lists, you have some insight into what a hoarder experiences. Combine that with the fear of getting rid of something you consider valuable, (whether it really is or not is beside the point) then I think you have the makings for a great hoarding character. Good luck with your story. 🙂

    • Tim Kane says:

      Thanks. The research on hoarding vs pack rat thusly: if the clutter impedes your ability to live, then you’re probably a hoarder.

      • It’s funny, just when I was preparing to get rid of my old school notes that are still in boxes in my basement, my brother dropped off a box of old school notes of my father’s yesterday and I was absolutely fascinated by some of the information in it, like the Royal visit of 1939 and how melting ice keeps food cold in an ice box. Now I’m almost tempted to keep HIS old notes, too! 🙂

        Oh, oh! I may be borderline hoarder! lol

      • BTW, I will be posting on the topic of pack rats and have linked back here, if you don’t mind. 🙂

      • Tim Kane says:

        Awesome. Already commented.

  2. I had a neighbor friend once who was a honest to goodness hoarder. It’s kind of sad, and more than a little depressing. If you can hang out with a hoarder for even a little while, it might help with your process. Just a suggestion. 😉

  3. […] few days ago, I came across Tim Kane’s post ‘Writer or Hoarder‘. It got me thinking whether there was a great deal of difference between a hoarder and a […]

  4. […] Two subjects near to my heart: John Scalzi on writing at home with a toddler; and Tim Kane wondering when writing notes tips over into being a hoarder. […]

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