What to do with Stuff? Writer's Stuff.

The Mill is enormous and, even with lodgers occupying some of it, often defeats my efforts to keep it basically clean and tidy, let alone well-maintained and orderly!  And, as Neil is usually in Italy, it is a one-woman battle.  With so much space and so little time, it's tempting to allow 'Stuff' to accumulate. But, lately, with Neil away so much, we've been talking about down-sizing.  The floods, too, have precipitated a re-think of what we keep and where.  The ground floor and mezzanine workshops are no longer safe.

I am having a clear-out.

Every book I write generates a vast amount of research, manuscript notes, photo-copied material, correspondence, newspaper clippings - the list is endless (and that's not counting all the files on the computer).  Lately I've been looking at the stacks of plastic storage boxes and files and wondering what I should do with them all.  Most of this material is never likely to be revisited by me.  If I was to be run over by a bus tomorrow (as my grandmother used to say) what on earth would my children make of it?  And then there are all my notebooks and diaries, kept since I was fourteen, family memorabilia inherited from my parents and grandparents.  I can hardly move for boxes.  Something has to be done!!
Just one book's worth of boxes (and I've written 17 of them!)

Recently I took the first steps to organise its disposal.  One of the biggest collections of material concerns Catherine Cookson, including autograph letters to and from her and her friends, as well as letters from her agents and publishers.  There are also the tapes she dictated, telling a confidential - and very controversial - version of her life. There are photographs and a few objects that belonged to Catherine and her husband, and the whole research trail that led to the discovery of her father's identity.

I offered it as a gift to Newcastle University's Robinson Library and they accepted.  It seemed the most suitable place to house Catherine's archive.  I delivered it the other day in the back of my car and it was a great relief to watch it all being wheeled off on a trolley. I'm not responsible for it any more, and the general public will be able to have access to all this original material.  It's where it belongs - beside the Tyne.

Now all I have to do is work out what to do with the remaining sixteen boxes of 'stuff'! 


  1. the accumulation conundrum ... I totally sympathise, Kathy x

    PS I go round and round in circles trying to find a solution - and that's just personal/family stuff!


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