World Travel
New Original Fiction
Books & Movies

Film Space
Movies in depth
Dreamscapes Two
More Fiction
Lifestyles Archive
Politics & Living
Sam Hawksmoor
New fiction
Another Place to Die: Endtime


25 Years Online
••• The International Writers Magazine -

Beware of tidying up your life
Sam North

You know how people tell you to declutter to make your life ‘simpler’. What they don’t mention is that it can lead to depression.

I decided to clear out my garage last week. This involves unstacking lots of boxes and making ruthless decisions about what to keep and what to pile into the recycling bin. Books – no problem – charity (Goodwill) shops will still accept books.

The harder pile was all those plays I wrote (most were broadcast but then the tapes wiped) and movie scripts with reject letters still attached. One tries very hard to not think about the decades of work and the struggles to get anything read - the struggle to get agents and when you did how useless they were. I don’t mind so much about the radio scripts because at least they had an airing, but the movie scripts reflected many months of work for each. Some were optioned, but never made. All now lie ripped up in the bin. I was going to leave this task to whoever will deal with my affairs when deceased but since I haven’t found anyone who is prepared to deal with my affairs, I had to face the ordeal myself.

With each manuscript I ripped up, I thought of the passions and thoughts that had accompanied each work, the hours of research, the hopes for success each project and the disappointments. It’s hard reliving your life through slightly damp piles of paper. You remember where you wrote them, who you were with at that time.

I think it's different to deciding which objects or pieces of furniture you can dispense with before someone else gets to decide this. I suspect all the contents of my home will either be sent to auction or a skip. But tearing up words, some dating back to the late seventies is brutal. You know no one will ever want to read them, after all they aren’t digital, you’d have to actually sit down and make the effort and to be honest scripts aren’t as rewarding to read as novels. At least some of my books are still available in print. Occasionally someone buys one. Yay. But ripping up the radio scripts (usually 45 mins long) brings back many emotions. Didn’t get paid much, just enough to pay my rent if I recall. Thirty-five were broadcast but I only managed to tape 16 of them as I was travelling when others were broadcast.

I remember the first radio play. I met the producer on a Wednesday following a personal recommendation to him. A writer had let him down and he needed a play by Monday, 9 am. Had to be a thriller. They always had a thriller on after the charts on a Sunday. Had to grab an audience immediately. Those were my instructions. Although I had written screenplays before and had already had four novels published at that time, I had never written a radio drama. You couldn’t Google how to do it in those days. No one had computers or mobile phones. I managed to get a sample play for layout and then sat down to think of a story. It was called 'Copycats', about a murderer killing lookalikes. It was a very stressful weekend. I had my mother and sister do a read through with me, made some changes and got it to the producer by 9am Monday. No time to even photocopy it.

He cast it immediately (they had come in expecting a different play) and rehearsals started at 11am. It was recorded at 2pm and I was now a radio dramatist. There was one technical hitch when the murderer kills a Marilyn Monroe lookalike in a hot tub. Getting that to sound right took a while. (Lesson quickly learned on what works and what doesn’t on radio). At the end they asked would I sign up to doing one play a month going forwards?

Ripping up those scripts this week brought back that tension as I learned my craft. And each script I tore up was accompanied by a whole set of disparate emotions. The first twelve were easy as I had a pile of short stories I’d written, the next twelve got a lot harder and the last twelve were murder. I had to resort to imploring waitresses at my local restaurant for their life stories or asking total strangers, ‘what’s the worst thing that ever happened to you.’

My rent got paid. (I was also working as a small magazine editor at the time). But this was a very ephemeral existence. As mentioned, the plays got broadcast once and wiped to reuse the tapes. I recall one hour-long drama ‘Final Accounts’ a rare comedy from me, did win an award – probably best make-up (joke) and I have it on tape, but who cares, right. On radio it’s in one ear and out the other. (Audience figures were around two million in those days – yes two million - hard to believe now.)

So, that was just one box in my garage. The books I can give away. The memories die with me.  Upstairs I also have many boxes with thousands of photographs that document a whole life. I’m pretty sure no one will even look inside them, and it will go straight to trash.

Knowing this, the only photos I take now are on my phone and will be of no interest to anyone at all. Think about the trillions of photos that exist in the cloud today – they too will vanish one day or be recycled by AI.

*Although I’m not actually planning on dying, I was just trying to make the process of not being around anymore a tad easier for whomever. On the whole though, I don’t recommend decluttering. It’s way too painful.

© Sam North June 6th 2024
Editor & author of Diamonds, Another Place to Die: The Endtime Chronicles, Magenta

More lifestyles

Share |


© Hackwriters 1999-2024 all rights reserved - all comments are the individual writer's own responsibility -
no liability accepted by or affiliates.