“Eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofmann
Editing has a bad reputation- undeserved in my book. It conjures up fussy schoolmarms, publishing house curmudgeons, and bored students. So I’m taking a stab at image consultancy for editing, admittedly with few credentials. A genuine interest in all sorts of editing will have to suffice.
Grammar rules that previous generations were taught (and sometimes remember) have fallen victim to changing styles. You would have done well to short the stock of Oxford commas, orphaned prepositions and paragraph indentations. These are the literary equivalents of the pickle fork, the formal RSVP, and the proper introduction- all going the way of the dodo bird. Precise punctuation and coherent construction of something worth saying don’t much matter in an email, text, or tweet. Saving time and limiting characters are today’s misguided motivators.
Grammatical editing may seem a strange hook, but care and attention to your words can be a gateway to care and attention to your material things. Think about the rules of English composition and edit your life as if it were an essay. Remember your most demanding English teacher- the one who loved the red pencil? Endeavor to please her.
The same concepts that apply to good writing can be used in best nesting. What is your topic? What themes will you explore? Will coherent parts be clearly introduced, then supported by interesting and well-chosen details? Will you let go of something you thought relevant to the whole when you realize it isn’t? Will you polish your work, even if that means a third or fourth go, taking the time and care that a pleasing finished product demands?
From John Irving, “If you presume to love something, you must love the process of it much more than you love the finished product.” Of course, he’s talking about writing. But don’t be limited. Well-chosen themes, attention to detail, and careful editing make lovely stories and lovely homes. In nesting, I challenge Irving's assertion that process trumps product. Loving your creation as much as you loved creating it is fine in my book! When you edit your material life as you would an essay, things fall into place. Subjects and verbs are agreeable. Modifiers don’t dangle. Voice is clear. Detritus goes. Treasures stay. Order prevails.
Lovely homes are built on the ironic notion that less is frequently more. It’s ironic because this seems deliberately contrary to what one might expect. If our nests are filled with more stuff than we use and enjoy, less should be a huge relief. Why is our disgust with clutter an invitation to buy matching containers and tags for organizing our flotsam when it really should be jettisoned? More things, as the cure for too many things could be the poster child for irony. Sometimes irony brings along humor to lighten things up, but this time, she’s traveling solo. Send her on her merry-less way!
In a nutshell, will you do as Hans Hofmann says? He was talking about art, but it’s excellent advice for the nest as well.