Inside the mind of a hoarder

Today I’ve been sorting through my filing cabinet and discovering all sorts of fabulous and strange artifacts I previously stashed away. Some are worth keeping, others not so much…

Very-Inspiring-Blog-Award2To help satisfy the requirements of the Very Inspiring Blogger meme — bestowed upon me by the wittily wonderful Liv Rancourt a week or so ago — I’ve decided to share with you ‘seven facts about me’ in the guise of seven of the more interesting filing cabinet factoids. I’m sure it will be most revealing of my character — heh.

1. Pages from The Age newspaper dated
18 February 1975

This had me stumped until I opened the pages to find a centrefold about the Kings and Queens of England. I don’t know when I decided to keep these pages (certainly not in 1975!), but I don’t think I need them somehow. It has, however, proved quite interesting to see how The Age looked nearly 40 years ago.

2. A piece of unused gift-wrapping featuring Mr Men

Honestly?! This was in the folder labelled ‘miscellaneous’ (as were many of these items) and I can only assume I thought it handy to have a pictorial representation… no, I have no idea what I was thinking.

3. Handouts on Electron Microscopy

Many of you may not realise that, not only am I an engineer, but I actually have a doctorate. Electron microscopy was a huge part of my thesis, and for one of the university open days we prepared handouts to explain what electron microscopy is. I used some of my electron micrographs (er, photos) on it. Here’s what a FLY looks like in the scanning electron microscope!

Images of a fly under the Scanning Electron Microscope (taken 20 years ago!)
Images of a fly under the Scanning Electron Microscope (taken 20 years ago!)


4. Correspondence with ‘famous authors’ – gasp!

Back when I was a mere 20-year old, I wrote (by hand — this was just before email came in) to a couple of my favourite authors, and was very excited to receive responses. Perhaps the most entertaining was my correspondence with Stephen Donaldson: first I wrote to him asking if he could send me a map for his fantasy works, Mordant’s Need; then, upon being told there wasn’t one, I created my own and sent it back to him requesting his feedback. He responded with a very nice letter saying I’d done a pretty good job, and hand-marked some minor changes. Gee, I was so excited! (To be honest, it still gives me a little thrill.)

5. A sketchbook in which my 11-year old self sketched pictures of a mythical school called ‘Kalmora’

I spent hours on this project. It was a girls’ school, and I worked out who was related (sisters had similar colouring), who was friends with who, and when my black texta ran out, all the black-haired girls left the school to be replaced with an influx of brunettes (heh). I drew them in class, on the netball court, in the schoolyard having lunch. Honestly, it’s hysterical. Here’s an example of my DREADFUL drawing skills! Note the emphasis is not on art, but on logic. Every element has to be present and make sense.

Drawing not my thing - will stick to writing!
Drawing not my thing – will stick to writing!


6. Every iteration (including hand markups) of every (unpublished) short story I ever wrote

These number only four, and I only ever attempted to get two of them published. The first is a disaster (the first page bored even me upon re-reading this afternoon), but the second is a piece of writing I’m really proud of. It isn’t a standard story structurally, which is its problem, and one day I may revise it or extend it or turn it into a novel. The thing is I love this piece of writing as-is and I still can’t bear to change it, after nearly 10 years and a few minor revisions. It crossed my mind this afternoon that I could share it on this blog, because it’s only about 2000 words, but I’ll have to think about that a bit further.

7. A folder labelled ‘research’

This turns out to contain a bunch of pamphlets, flyers and clippings about miscellaneous topics — from crystal healing to winemaking to decomposing bodies — that might come in useful when writing fantasy. (I have written a scene with a decomposing body, actually.) Nevermind that all this information is doubtless available from a Google search… Nevermind that I can’t actually remember what’s inside the folder anyway!


So there you have it. Some insight into the brain of a hoarder. But I confess it’s been quite fun to go through all this stuff — and that’s why I’ve kept it, after all. Not sure I need to keep every revision of every story, though…

The rules of this game say I need to nominate three others to play, so I’m tagging

The Rules

Display the award logo on your blog.
Link back to the person who nominated you.
State 7 things about yourself.
Nominate three other bloggers and link back to them.

Now tell me what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever stashed away for a rainy day? When you came across it again, did you keep it?


15 thoughts on “Inside the mind of a hoarder

  1. Thanks for the tag, Ellen. I like how you focused these facts about yourself through the lens of your file cabinet. How did you get the fly to sit still long enough to look at him through an electron microscope?

    And what kind of engineer are you? I’m considering an engineering degree, myself.


    1. Thanks, Mike. I’m a materials engineer, although dropped out of the game a while ago. I regret this from time to time actually, but am trying to weave myself back into the sector via a communications role.

      Alas, the poor fly was very dead. And coated with gold to-boot. I don’t know who prepared the specimen; the engineering department used to get him out for open days regularly. (The gold was to make him conductive to electrons.)


  2. Such a creative way to share 7 things about yourself! Love it. And such interesting finds in your file cabinet. The correspondence with the author is way cool. I’m really impressed that you not only wrote him, but also that he wrote back to you. Your microscopy photo is fascinating, though I’m drawn more to the drawing your 11 year-old self made. So adorable! I recently came across my diary from around that age – the stuff I deemed important enough to write in it had me in tears laughing at myself. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Tami. I think the author correspondence is so interesting because in those days it was all formal via the publisher, and the replies (for there were 2) came back all typed on special letterhead. These days, of course, most authors are instantly accessible via their web sites or twitter. Such different times!

      The sketch pad is highly entertaining. I clearly remember doing all the drawings – there’d be nearly 20 of them. But it was never about the art. It was always about the story — although there’s no story, just a bunch of scenarios.


    1. I suspect you’re not the only one with clippings about that event tucked away. Are you a journalist? If so, I’d think there’d be a bunch of articles you might feel inclined to keep. 🙂
      Thanks for commenting – it’s lovely to hear from you.


  3. A doctor, eh? Wow!

    I’m going to have nightmares about that fly. They are so gross.

    I think your drawing is great! It reminds me of something my daughter would draw.

    I have a slight preference toward hoarding too 🙂 Thanks for the tag!


    1. The fly is a bit nightmarish I suppose – sorry about that. Perhaps I should have a warning! Glad I’m not the only hoarder… Looking forward to reading your seven factoids!


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