In our rural community there is no free garbage pickup. We either pay private contractors for trash removal or take it ourselves to the Town Recycling and Disposal Center, aka “The Dump.” Doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs — and writers – nearly all of us opt to do it on our own. We stuff the bags and boxes of garbage in our cars and trucks and haul it down the country roads, windows open if the air inside smells nasty.
The dump is closed on most major holidays and over two years ago, for budget reasons, the Town Board decided to close it on Wednesdays. This week and how many other times, dear God, have I forgotten what day it is, loaded up the trunk and back seat of my car – kitchen and bathroom trash, office and bedroom baskets, newspapers and magazines, empty plastic bottles – and driven purposefully down Springs Fireplace Road to the entrance on Wednesdays? Six? Eight? How about 12, a dirty dozen or more times? And that’s probably a low figure. The trash, the car, me – all must return home, and the garbage must be unloaded from the car.
Is it just me, the writer and multitasker, taking a break from the desk and computer, doing this? Am I ADHD? Definition found online: “Inability to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in everyday activities. I’ve asked around, and apparently many normal-thinking citizens like real estate brokers, inn keepers, shop owners (more normal thinking than writers and artists, anyhow) make this mistake as well.
What’s my point in telling you this? Simply to remind you, me, and my adult and senior writing students: pay more attention. Remember what day it is, in real time and when writing your stories and essays. Don’t go to the doctor’s on Tuesday if your appointment is actually on Thursday. Don’t show up for a lecture on Sunday if it was scheduled for Saturday, the day before.
In your story, don’t have Mary go to the hair salon on Monday when Monday is the day the salon is closed. Don’t say, in your essay, that Joe went to the post office on Sunday when everyone knows the post office is closed on Sundays.
If your character’s name is Cindy, don’t change it to Claire midway, since that’s the name you were going to call her. And if she’s wearing a red dress while she’s at the supermarket, don’t change it to pink while she’s on her way home. Just because we’re distracted in our busy, artistic, productive lives doesn’t mean we should inflict this on our stories and our readers. We all know how important it is to edit. Maybe Claire will win out over Cindy during the editing process. Maybe she’ll look better, after all, in pink. That’s the beauty of the time we put into our editing, making changes, repairing errors, being sure it all fit together before we send it off into the world.
I leave you then, with these thoughts or, better still, with these lessons learned from going to the dump.
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