Well, okay, technically that’s not true. Lot’s of things are wasted. But sometimes those things we think we should just throw away can actually come in pretty handy.
As I’m sure you are aware, one recent suggestion in the ongoing battle against the current health pandemic is to wear cloth masks when you need to be out and about around other people. Masks are, however, in short supply. Hospitals and medical systems have spent the last weeks (maybe longer) trying to find enough of them to keep their doctors and nurses safe as they treat their patients.
Fortunately, as a member of the general public, we don’t really need a professional high-grade mask for those infrequent trips to the grocery or drug store.
Cue the home-made mask bonanza.
The health system I work for has been inundated by kindhearted souls wanting to make and donate masks for anyone who doesn’t need one of the high-grade masks. So many people have reached out to donate that there is a special email box and a dedicated group of individuals responding to all of the outreach, and thousands and thousands of masks have been sent in (and are in use).
Trapped home this past rainy weekend I thought, “I could do that,” and set out to rummage through the craft-cupboard in the garage (yes, I have a craft-cupboard-doesn’t everyone?) for supplies. I wasn’t sure exactly what was out there, but as it turns out, there was plenty of fabric, elastic, bias tape, and even a package of pipe-cleaners (used to make the nose-bridge of the masks).
Many of the supplies I found were actually from my mom’s house – stuff that I had inherited and not thrown away because “it might be useful someday.” I’m now patting myself on the back for that choice. I was pretty sure I could figure out how to make a mask, but watched a few YouTube videos just to make sure. As a rough guess, I’d say there are about 24,339 videos out there showing you how to make masks–all of them with slight variations of the same idea–some requiring sewing and some not.
The net result is a stack of masks that I can use when I go out and can share with others who need them. At least one mask already came in handy: I traded one to a friend for some baking power (I can’t believe I ran out!).
I was thinking about this–the masks, not the baking powder–when I was out for my daily no-human-contact walk around my local park this evening. Crafting supplies aren’t the only things I don’t throw away because the might be “useful some day.”
When it comes to writing, I do the same thing. Although my editing process often, to my dismay, involves cutting out large chunks of laboriously drafted text, I never throw the outtakes away. Words that don’t make the final cut go off in a document where they just might find a second life in some other story. If nothing else, reading through the bits and pieces that have been pruned from others stories can sometimes trigger new ideas.
Eight Lady Jeanne mentioned a short while back that she had prune a chunk from the story she was working on, but thought it might make a good stand-alone giveaway piece to use for marketing. That’s a great way to turn words that might have initially seemed “wasted” into something useful.
I’m currently “re-purposing” a story draft I wrote a few years back. It the initial story was a rather lighthearted contemporary but I just wasn’t happy with how it turned out. Now I’m looking at it with more of a “women’s fiction” mindset, and I think that suits it better. I’m currently pruning away large swaths of words to get to the story’s basic framework. It’s painful, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find some use for all of the words that don’t make the cut this time around.
So, how about you? What have you been able to put to good use lately?