Life as Tragedy: Merry Christmas


With Christmas almost upon us (my shoulders ache already), it seems only fitting to quote Oscar Wilde:

“There are only two tragedies in life: One is not getting what you want, the other is getting it.”


A. You get a new crock pot, well, you better plan on making dinner for 12!

B. You don’t get a new crock pot, you better plan on making dinner for 12 All. Day. Long.

What is it we all want anyway? How many conversations have I had about too much stuff? Too much in our basements, closets, clutter clutter everywhere. Downsizing is the verb du jour. As in…

A. “We are downsizing, so I am selling all of my husbands bobble heads when he goes on a work trip.”

B. “We are downsizing, so I only keep two days worth of groceries in the house at any given time to make room for the wine of the month club bottles.

C. “We are downsizing, so we decided to give the children away.”

Today’s tragedy begins with too much stuff. So much stuff that friends and neighbors are claiming they cannot possibly move. Where are they going anyway? Somewhere with less room for stuff? My parents generation lived (and died) to acquire more things. Most stayed in one house for their entire lives filling it like an Egyptian tomb. It was success in tangible terms. Now we are rejecting it outright. And here comes Christmas.

This brings me to my latest writing project which involves paring down words, phrases, sentences and in some cases, entire chapters. What to keep, what to throw away? Some days I just want to torch it all and tell people I am a dynamic solutions specialist.

To be clear, I am trying to improve my writing by saying less and less. If I say nothing at all, will the great multitude finally sit up and listen? “Hey, there’s Sally Wright’s latest, it’s a book of blank pages. She’s a genius.”

“And, I hear she makes a great chili in her new crock pot.”

Are you filling an Egyptian tomb, paring down, or just making a damn good chili? Tell the truth.






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10 Responses to Life as Tragedy: Merry Christmas

  1. Joan Chandler says:

    Hugh Downs was host of “The Today Show” for many years. I loved his command of the English language. I especially recall two pieces of sage advice he gave us:

    1. “I raise many varieties of cactus on the rooftop of my New York City apartment. I’m often asked how I manage to nurture so many beautiful plants. Here’s the secret – I watch daily the weather reports for the southwest U.S. When it rains there, I water my cacti.”
    2. “We Americans are much too wordy. Whenever you begin to speak or write, imagine you have to inscribe it with a precision tool on a piece of slate.”

    I don’t always heed his advice in #2. In fact, by the ages of 8 and 9 my children stopped asking me any questions, because they were afraid my answer would be so detailed they’d miss volleyball practice or a movie with friends. However, I have made progress in the writing department. I can whittle down a 700-word essay into 300 words without completely losing its meaning.

    And I’m really successful in the downsizing department….my secret lies in a hidden corner of Staples, where I find packages of computer-paper-sized boxes, ready to assemble at a cost of approximately $1 per box. I store everything – everything I’m not presently using – in these boxes: Christmas decor, gift wrap and bows, Halloween decorations, small gift items, seldom-used dishes, winter (or summer) clothes; you get the idea. Every box is labeled – neatly, so that if I eventually use that box for another purpose, the label can be easily covered with a stick-on tag. These boxes stack evenly and have handy carrying handles. When they get dog-eared from use, I use them to collect recyclables for the transfer station, to transport casseroles to friends’ or families’ homes, to take Downsizing Items to Goodwill. Luckily, these boxes will also allow the arranging of hanging folders for storage of old paperwork!

    Actually, I have to stop typing now. My daughter and son-in-law are renovating their kitchen and presently have no stove, so I’m making a batch of chili for them. So I have to head to the storage room and rummage through some of the afore-mentioned boxes to find my 4-quart Crock-Pot!


  2. Barb says:

    Great blog! So funny and true. I can’t wait to read the blank pages! I’m pretty sure I want something, but I am willing to get rid of alot:)

  3. Lisbeth Bochette says:

    Great question! I am definitely paring down. Less is more in my motto or less stuff means less to clean. It’s definitely difficult when “stuff” has sentimental value even paper “stuff” – cards, letters, kids’ art masterpieces. Its seems never-ending, I keep giving myself deadlines that come & go! Four words that are helping me though are: Donate, Ebay, Trash, or Keep…I’ve let go of the deadlines & New Year’s resolutions.
    Do a little at a time – even if it means do a drawer, section of closet, pile…just do it!

  4. JoAnn says:

    Your blank pages novel reminds me of the 1970’s pet rocks craze – that guy became a millionaire – go for it Sally!!

    I don’t like clutter but I do like to be surrounded by pretty things so it’s always a tough decision on what to keep and what to toss.

    Several years ago I adopted two philosophies:
    1. If a new item comes into the house something has to get thrown away.
    2. I told my family and friends no more gifts unless it was disposable – something I can eat, drink, burn, etc.

    So far it is working for me – but you’ll never find me in one of those tiny houses I see on HGTV!!!!

    • Sally Sally says:

      HA! No tiny houses for me, either JoAnn…not unless I get my own and it is for a writing studio. I will heed your advice and try to produce a blank book worth millions! THX SLW

  5. “Are you filling an Egyptian tomb, paring down, or just making a damn good chili? Tell the truth.” Um… all three, actually.

    As for cutting word counts, it continually astonishes me how I can come back to a finished, nicely polished story, realize I want to submit it someplace with guidelines that demand I cut 75 words or 114 words or whatever, and… I’m able to do it, and with relative ease. The piece is always improved. Cut, cut, cut….

    • Sally Sally says:

      Claire, you are a multi-tasker, I can tell. Egyptian tomb filling and paring down can make one hungry for a damn good chili! Okay, back to my cut cut cutting. SLW

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