Weekend Edition – When a Writer Moves …

Today is the Big Day …

fill house books seussAs you read this my daughter and I are in the process of moving into our new home. We are working alongside my beau, my parents, sundry friends, and a couple of hired helpers to lug all our worldly belongings from our old apartment to our very own house.

Though our new address is only ten doors down from where we’ve been renting for the past eighteen months, this move has been just as time consuming as the other four we’ve made in the past seven years. Is there any such thing as an easy move? I doubt it. I have yet to hear anyone ever say that they enjoy moving.  More often than not, people tend to shudder at the thought of having to uproot and relocate.

I have come to realize that my own dread of moving may play an influential role in my lust for fascination with tiny houses. The idea of paring my material goods down to only what will fit in a 300 square-foot house is made even more appealing by the prospect of having to once again cart, heft, and haul all the paraphernalia of my current domestic life.

The good news is that since we own the house we’re moving in to, we will (hopefully!) not have to move again for a good long while. This is a huge relief. It’s also delightful, after having rented for the better part of the last decade, to daydream about customizing our new home. I already have visions of some built in bookcases for the living room, “floating” shelves in my bedroom, and some floating/corner shelves in the upstairs hall. Hell, I might even find a nice bookcase for the mudroom. I’m also thinking about eventually putting in some window seats … with bookcases underneath, of course.

These are the elements of a writer’s dream house. Bookshelves in every room, and books on every shelf.  The only downside is having to move the books from one house to the other. As I wrapped up this most recent packing, I found that (despite pretty major purges during our last two moves) I have almost fifty boxes of books to move. My books on writing fill three boxes all on their own, and then there are my favorite novels, childhood picture books, and current reads. I have several boxes of nonfiction and several more filled with my daughter’s personal library. That’s not to mention the boxes that contain books we no longer want/need to have on the shelf, but can’t bear to part with.

And then there are the journals. Having journaled fairly consistently since I was seven years old, you can imagine the collection I’ve accrued at this point in my life. I have, I think, three Rubbermaid storage bins filled to the top with old journals, diaries, and sketchbooks. There are also two wooden crates and several bureau drawers filled with more recent scribblings. I also have several magazine caddies filled with back issues of Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers. I have hard copy files filled with swipes, story ideas, marked up pages from writers’ groups, and miscellaneous notes. In short, I am comfortingly weighed down by the very concrete trappings of a writer.

Though it will be hard work carrying all those boxes and boxes of books and notebooks from our old home to our new home, I don’t really mind. After all, as Horace Mann said, “A house without books is like a room without windows.” And, as Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Happily, my house will have both books and windows, and each room will enough literary material to guarantee it’s full of soul.


Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

60 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – When a Writer Moves …

  1. Hi Jamie
    A very warm welcome to you and your daughter in your new home. May you share many years of joy and laughter there.
    All the best

    • Thank you so much, Angelique. We’re still settling in, but already feeling the joy and sharing the laughter.

  2. I think I would feel the same way if I had to move to a new place. I have a whole box of journals that I’ve had since junior high and bookshelves full of books. I hope you’re enjoying your new home.

    • Yes, we writers come with a lot of paper baggage.
      Despite the piles of boxes, we are definitely enjoying our new home. Thanks so much for asking. 🙂

    • Oooh! Great thought. Some of my books give my mind a comfortable place to rest, like a plush reading chair or cozy window seat. Other books are like a kitchen cupboard – full of sustenance for the mind. And still others are like a desk, giving us a place to sit down and study.
      What a fun metaphor!

  3. It sounds like we should all be sending you our old bookshelves, if we have any spare. Ive not heard that saying about a room without books, but i like it. I need more books in my rooms it seems.

    • Yes. I definitely need more bookcases. We have a wonderful flea market that runs on Sundays a couple of towns over. Most of my furnishings come from the vendors there. I’ll be making the trip again soon to see if I can find a few more bookcases to fit particular nooks around the house. 😉

      Good luck finding more books!

    • Thank you! The move was a success, and all my boxes of books are piled in one corner, just waiting for me to pop them open and start arranging. I can’t wait!

    • I know what you mean, Andrew. At least this time I had the sense to use smaller boxes to pack my books. In the first couple of moves, I used boxes that were large enough that once you’d loaded them with books, they were nearly too heavy to lift. Crazy. This time, I pilfered my book boxes from a local liquor store. The wine boxes are the perfect size for packing and carrying books! 😉

  4. You have my sympathies and congrats! We’ve moved twice in the last four years including last November – going from a five bedroom, to a four, and presently to a three BR home and hoping…lol…to move to a two bedroom at some point in the next few years. My husband and I lost our home to foreclosure during the recession and we would love to purchase another but felt waiting until our youngest was off to college was prudent. With each move, and each “purging” we got rid of stuff – kid stuff (5 kids), stored furniture, etc. but the hardest was the BOOKS. Somehow, that feels a little like getting rid of a part of yourself, doesn’t it? But we started off with more than 4,500 books and we’re down to about half that. Still too much and I will pare down again. Looking forward to the next move! (But secretly hoping there will be potential “library” space…for maybe one or two more “special” books!)

    • Wow. 4,500 books?!? You’ve got me beat by a long shot. That’s an impressive collection!

      I agree that it’s difficult to part with certain books. I still have some from my childhood, of course, but I also have quite a few ratty paperbacks from my early twenties – books that are not worth anything (or in very good condition), but which were a big part of my life as I was first starting out on my own. They are an important part of my history. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to let them go.

      Good luck with your downsizing, and with someday finding the perfect home of your own … WITH library space!

  5. Aaaaaahhhhh! I am just shivering to the thought of moving… which could happened soon if the place where I live is sold. Just to think to pack and move my library of 5,000+++ (I just stopped counting) books… I want to cry and I dream, dream, dream to have my own little nest where my babies will be home forever in a beautiful room of their own… a nice library, a wonderful study where I will be quiet for writing and studying.

    Have a good moving day, dear you

    • As I said to Laura in the previous comment, I’m seriously bowled over by the volume of titles in your collection. Wow. You have me beat. I think we all dream of having a personal library with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, a fireplace, and many comfy chairs for curling up with a good book. For now, I must indulge my fantasies only on my Pinterest boards, but – at least I can dream. 🙂

      • Oh! What a wonderful image of the perfect personal library… exactly what I/we need… I will add a desk, computer, comfy chair and tables/desks to have place to spread research files and a closet to place all the reserve of paper, ink, pens & pencils, etc… so everything is super clean… and a door to work in silence.
        … now, have to manifest it 😀

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  7. I have to laugh, not at your move, but at the fact that I am also moving this weekend. At one point in the packing process, I told my husband that writers should never move. I never really knew how many books, manuscripts, resource books, journals, and writer what-not I actually possessed.

    I sold or gave away many of the books in my personal library (of course, I kept all the writer resource books) because I can always go to re-sale shops and restock those shelves.

    We are moving, not 10 doors down, but 591 miles; and I had lived in the home I am moving from for one month shy of 29 years.

    It was unbelievable at the stuff I, my children (now grown, but some of their stuff is still there), and my husband have collected.

    • Hello, fellow writer, reader, and mover.
      I hope you survived your move & have landed safely and happily in your new home.
      Twenty-nine years in the same home. I can imagine how much you had accumulated, and the thought makes me dizzy with anxiety. I am already trying to be as intentional as I can about reducing clutter and waste and only keeping the things that truly delight me. The trouble is finding satisfactory ways to “re-home” certain belongings. I know I should learn to just let them go, but it’s hard.

      Again – I hope your move was successful. Happy nesting in the new place!

  8. Wow, I hope the move goes smoothly! I recently moved my life to South Korea, and my fiance and I love our new house. He has a music studio and I have my own reading room, complete with lots of bookshelf space, a wingback chair and ottoman, and a comfy rug. I’m really happy that I also might not have to move again for a good long while. I had to narrow down the books I brought from my home in America, and it was really hard. Now that we’ve settled in and gotten everything set up the way we want, I actually have time to read. Moving is stressful but once you get to sit down in your new house with a good book, it will be all too worth it!

    • Wow. That’s quite a move, but it sounds like it was a move with a very happy ending. Congratulations on getting there and on scoring a house with a reading room. That sounds delightful.

      And – yes! – moving is stressful and all consuming, but I have already managed to steal a few pockets of time on the couch with a book, and it feels pretty amazing … as long as I don’t look at the piles of still-to-be-unpacked boxes all around me. 😉

      Happy reading!

  9. Dear Jamie, I hope for you and your daughter that your new house is blessed with love, abundance, good health…and books – both ones that you read and ones that you have written ❤️

    • Thank you so much, Sara. What a lovely wish and blessing. We are settling in happily, and I’m looking forward to many blissful hours of reading and writing. 🙂

  10. Hi Jamie, Congratulations and happy reading in your new home. I like your ideas for more bookshelves – and window nooks in which to read! – Deborah.

    • Thank you, Deborah! 🙂
      Now, I just have to get the bookcases actually made. One thing at a time, thought, right?

    • Thank you, Alison. And you’re right – what else would I do but haul these personal artifacts to the new house. They are my personal history and mythology. Who knows how I might use them someday in the future. We’ll see! 😉

  11. I made a rule about a month ago to not buy anymore books until I’ve read the entire lot that I have. I’m semi-fortunate in that I lost most of mine in 2005, and have only been getting them since then. Trying to pare down myself. Best wishes in your new home!

    • I borrow a lot of books from the library these days. It’s something I used to do as a kid, but then stopped. It’s fun to return to the public library that was my haunt as a young girl. It’s a little like coming home.

  12. My extensive book collection (mainly bought at university) has gradually been relegated further and further out of sight. They currently sit in boxes in our loft while we travel for a year – they may well have ended up staying there on our return, but your post has inspired me to not only get them down and back onto shelves in the upstairs rooms, but get some decent nooks and crannies going for book display and perusal. I particularly need to consider what to do with my full set of hardback Dickens that were a present from my grandmother.

    • There are zillions of “decorating with books” ideas on Pinterest. I say, the more books we can bring into our living spaces, the better. Though I may not read them often, I just like having them around me; and I will occasionally pick up one I’ve read before and peruse it again. It’s nice – like having a chat with an old friend.

      Enjoy reintroducing yourself to your old friends! 🙂

  13. I am just in the process of cataloguing all the books I have bought over the years. I know I have bought the same book before in different editions (sometimes deliberately and sometimes not!) I wouldn’t have it any other way though. My books are like friends. I just need some more shelving to accommodate them all. Enjoy your new home 🙂

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who has bought multiple copies of the same title by accident. I guess when you find something you really like, you stick with it! 😉

      Enjoy your bookish cataloging. Actually sounds like fun. #booknerd

    • OMG – I didn’t move into a 300 square-foot house, but maybe someday I will. Google “tiny house” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s a whole lifestyle movement.

      I have also done some of my book buying via my Kindle, but I don’t think I’ll ever go completely digital. I love having my books as physical company in the real world too much to go all the way virtual.

      Glad your bedside table got some relief!

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