038 - Why I never throw anything away

I take a break from writing... to write... god I'm an addict - somebody call Intervention and give them their most boring show ever.

Wanna hear a secret? I made a baby last night. Yep. On Bebo. She's adorable. Her name is Penelope and she's just a joy to have around... already sleeping through the night... never makes a fuss. In fact, most of the time she just sits there and stares at me with her big, green, anime eyes. She never blinks... or moves for that matter... Penelope's kind of boring, actually. Truth be told, I worry about Penelope's development. She doesn't seem to take an interest in much of anything (not even my best material) and I don't know what's become of her dirty diapers... because I haven't been disposing of them... Hope she's not eating them, but if she is... that might explain why her eyes are so big... Gah, that went downhill fast...

Day two - success. One soda, all food from the book, and in a couple of hours I will get on the treamill. Baby steps.

So... as I was editing, I remembered that I was going to talk about one very important thing I learned during the process of writing this book - never throw anything I've written away. I used to delete, delete, delete, and I can't tell you how many times I ended up regretting it. Just because something doesn't work in one place doesn't mean it's worthless - maybe you can change it up and move it to another location in the story, or it might generate an idea that you can run with, or it might even be useful... in a different story. And sometimes, well, it's just crap. But crap can be useful too - it might make you laugh, or you can look back on it and pat yourself on the back because hey - at least you don't write crap like that anymore. Or now you recognize crap when you see it. So now if I cut a sentence or paragraph from my story, I don't just delete it; I move it to my s-crap file in case I want to recycle it.

It's come in handy quite a few times.

For example, I wrote this a few months before I ever got started on this book, then I changed it up and used it in chapter one. Originally it was an exercise to describe how it felt to lose someone and have to host their funeral, especially when you have mixed emotions about the people involved, including the deceased (thanks to Hallmark channel for the inspiration). I'm always pushing myself to write something that people can feel, as if they're experiencing it for themselves, so that's what I was going for here... visceral.

I'm posting it as I originally wrote it, warts and all. Yes, I realize it's not perfect. I wrote it and walked away from it until I cannibalized pieces of it for Born on a Day When the Sun Didn't Shine. So to clarify, this hasn't been edited and I am aware that it's not my best effort.


The following material is copyrighted by Kristy Hutchison:

Here I stand, the focal point of a line that seems to stretch on for eternity. He had been loved, and he would be missed. That's what they tell me. Each of them puts it a different way, but it all boils down to the same thing.

It's awkward to stand here and talk to people I barely know, to accept their condolences on my loss when all I want to do is curl into a ball and disappear. Why should I be subjected to this public spectacle? It feels more like a social event than a viewing. They aren't here for me, they're here for him... and that bastard, he isn't here for me now either. I feel so angry, and so ashamed at myself for being angry. But I have to put on my thankful face... thank you for coming out, thank you for your kind words, thank you for the broccoli casserole.

How much longer can this possibly go on? I forgot to eat breakfast; I don't want to faint in front of him. I need to sit. Or cut my feet off so they won't throb anymore.

God. Why have I been so reliant on him? I don't even know where we keep our money. Where's the insurance policy? He never told me where the safety deposit box was. Come to think of it, I don't know much about anything really. This is just beginning and I'm already overwhelmed.

"Those flowers are from me... they were his favorite." Does she really think I care about flowers right now? Okay she does... and why shouldn't I? She went to all the effort of reaching into the cooler to grab them. But god, they're putrid, she must have spent a whole five bucks on them – if she spent more she got ripped off. They're beautiful, thank you.

I think I see the end of the line. Finally. This is almost over. "We'll drop by later to bring the side dishes." Who is she? "And don't worry dear, we'll stay to help clean up - you shouldn't have to worry about that at a time like this." She's right. I shouldn't have to worry about entertaining at a time like this. I haven't even cleaned the house since it happened. I'll be mortified if anyone wanders into the guest room.

If only he had family. If only he hadn't alienated mine. Might be easier if I didn't have to shoulder the burden of his memory for all of these people. They're starting to cluster now, tell stories about him. Some people are crying, but there are pockets of laughter, too. It doesn't seem right, the laughter. I bet they're telling the chicken story again. They always tell the chicken story. When my time comes I hope I've contributed more to the world than a bad chicken story that isn't even funny unless you were there.

"I always liked him in that suit." Thank you, I bought it two days ago, you have an excellent memory. "He looks so natural, they did a good job." Well yes... except for the orange tint to his skin and... is that mascara? "If you need anything don't hesitate to call us." I don't think you mean that... because I don't actually have your number.

"I'm sorry for your loss." Oh God. I can't believe she's here. She's got a lot of nerve to walk up and try to give me a hug. After fifteen years of marriage I knew something was up, but I hadn't thought it'd be her. If he was going to cheat on me I'd hoped it would be out of vanity, some pretty young thing I couldn't possibly compete against with my saggy ass and age spots. Some silly twit with nothing going on upstairs who couldn't hold his attention so he'd get bored and come home, chastened. But there's nothing remotely attractive about the old bag in front of me except for her Cadillac. I've never seen her this close up before. Gads, she looks like she's wearing a wig and I think she took a bath in Chanel No. 5. There's nothing more embarrassing than being left for an ugly woman... except, I suppose, being left for a man.

I was actually planning to leave him before they found the brain tumor, but by then I was stuck. I hate myself for admitting this, but I mostly stayed because it would look callous if I walked away. People would judge me because I abandoned him. They never liked me so the fact that he was stepping out on me wouldn't matter to them. In fact it would probably end up being my fault, in the final analysis it would be me who drove him to it. They're judging me even now. I can hear their whispers, they think I'm a snob. "Unfriendly" is the word they used. I guess next time I'll try to smile and tell knock-knock jokes so they'll like me.

I don't know what I'm going to do now that he's gone. I'm scared. I've never been alone before. Now I have to fumble my way through life like a newborn. I'm not equipped for this.

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