You see, in German, there is the word Mist. This word is what we in linguistics would call a “false friend”: It looks like it means “fine spray of water,” and yet, it means nothing of the sort.
Mist, my darlings, means “dung” in German. And also “crap” (n.). And also a few other things, the most notable one beginning with “sh-” in English and “Sch-” in German.
But I digress. In German, Mist is a noun, but it is also the root of the verb ausmisten, which means “to muck out” (i.e. a stable). But I like to translate it directly: aus-misten = de-crap.
Thus ends your German slang lesson for the day.
I Have My Closet Ausgemistet
Today, I de-crapped my bedroom closet. Or, rather, my half of the bedroom closet, because Ed and I share said closet, halving it between us. Compared to the average American female, I think I possess a rather small amount of clothing. But recently, even my small amount hath whelmed me to the point of over, because my half of the closet has started looking like a laundry basket projectile vomited into it.
So. This evening, I deeeed the crap out of my closet.
It took about two hours. I sorted, I folded, I flung. I separated fall/winter shirts from spring/summer ones. I identified items I haven’t worn in awhile, folded said items neatly, and placed them in a donations bag. In a move both heart-wrenching and exhilarating, I also filled that give-away bag with five (5) pairs of shoes.
Oh, and I counted my hats. I own 31 of them. I’m not giving any of those away. And you can’t make me.
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
When I was done, I was in possession (and am, still) of the organized, season-appropriate, hung-by-colors closet you see in the photo above. I stood back and gave a satisfied sigh as I surveyed my handiwork.
In my closet, things are now findable. Things are reachable. Things are sensible. I now know what items of clothing I own and where to find them. Stepping into the closet no longer makes me feel as though I’m entering the antechamber of hell. Swimsuits and fedoras no longer threaten to fall upon my nervous noggin.
My closet is de-crapped, and I feel accomplished.
Which brings me to this, dear inklings: I am challenging you. Not necessarily to clean out your closets (although I recommend it), but to take the closet-de-crapping metaphor and run with it. I’m going to ask you some questions, and I’d love to hear your answers in the comments:
In what ways do we writers need to de-crap our writing?
What must we do in order to de-crap our writing?
When you take a close look at your writing, do you feel whelmed to the point of over?
How is that feeling the same as standing in a closet door and seeing piles of clothes and junk looming over your head?
What are your writing “hats” you refuse to get rid of?
In writing, what is there to sort? to throw away? to give away?
I’m particularly interested in this idea of “donating” stuff from our writing that we know we don’t need. What does that concept look like in practical application?
Oh! And maybe you’re many steps ahead of me and have already de-crapped your writing. What did that look like?