I am an obsessive-compulsive word saver. I keep anything printed. I own more books than the local library. My favorite authors’ ‘chef d’oeuvres’ are triple stacked on shelves lining my home’s hallways. So many guests have been knocked out en route to our restroom that I posted warning signs. Proceed at your own peril. Beware falling books!

I have file cabinets loaded with newspaper articles from the 70’ and 80’s and binders filled with columns, articles, books, screenplays and other half-baked ideas. My musings are stacked from the floor to ceiling in every corner of our house

Semi annually, I make a pact to get organized and head to nearest stationary store with best intentions. I buy cartloads of color coded folders and dividers, but never file a single story. Where do I begin? Consequently, I now have shelves filled with a lovely assortment of empty organizers in rainbow colors.

Worse yet, I also save every warm-hearted letter, card or poem anyone ever wrote me. My inspiration shelf is covered with kind words penned by family or friends.

If only I had confined my vice to the home front, I could cope, but my malady invaded my work place as well. Lesson plans, students’ portfolios, and professional journals are sprawled across offices in four different departments in the school where I teach. Now, in addition to my hubby, I drive my colleagues crazy, too.

If this illness was only confined to hardcopy, it could be manageable, but now I collect everything written in cyberspace. At work I have 400 emails in my inbox, some from people whose names I no longer recognize. At home I have double that number with another 500 saved in sent mail. There is no longer any blank space on my writing table or on my virtual Mac Book desktop.

Ironically, though I hoard ideas in fear I may need that article, quote, or comment, I would never find it again. I waste hours tearing up the house and school searching for the perfect phrase that aptly inspires or consoles, that I know I saved somewhere.

When did I become a word junky? I blame my grandma, also a writer, when she gave me my first diary in grade school. Naturally, I misplaced that too. However I wasn’t surprised when thirty years later, new owners of the house discovered my diary tucked on ledge in my former bedroom and mailed it to me. Like homing pigeons even lost words find their way home.

Not only do I collect paper print, but I also saved T-shirts bearing the logo of every team I was affiliated with during my forty year career. Therefore not only are my shelves filled, my closets are overflowing.

I debated starting a self-help group for chronic collectors, but we would never move beyond the initial confession, “My name is Pat. I am a pack rat.” Though I would be the first to admit my addiction, I am the last person on earth to know how to cure such an ailment. Alas blogger buddies, I turn to you for advice. How do you begin to part with a lifetime’s recording of memories. Any tips for how to let go of words?