I'm always hoping the answer to this question is an argument in favor of the state of my desk most of the time.
Like many writers, I think I want to write in a nice tidy environment, and I make sporadic efforts to clean my desk off and put stuff away. It always looks so nice I feel like taking a photo to remind myself what it looks like. But it doesn’t take long for the bits and pieces to add up. A fellow writer recently posted a photo of her desk immediately post writing “The End” in her current novel and I had to chuckle because that’s exactly what my desk looks like at the moment.
Unlike many writers, I don’t have a desk that consists of a long counter like space with shelves overhead and plenty of room to stretch out. I have a wonderful desk my brother built for me and when I keep it tidy, it’s more than large enough to handle all the things that need to be close at hand. I am also surrounded by bookshelves on three sides - the closest shelves within arm’s reach where I keep all the books frequently used while writing. So theoretically, there should be no reason why I can’t write in tidy surroundings.
Unfortunately there is my Must-take-care-of pile. On Jaunary 1st, when I wrote out my New Year’s resolutions, I cleaned my desk. But some of the resolutions included dealing with a few non-writing projects. Nothing needed to be done immediately, but they did need to be done. So I found folders to keep the various bits of paper organized and set them on the corner of my desk.You know - that pile of things you are afraid to put out of sight where you’ll forget them, yet don’t want to do right now? The pile that eventually threatens to take over your desk and your life?
As the first two months of the year passed, I took care of a couple items in those tidy little files. Then other things got added, but didn't get so neatly organized. All the various charge slips that I keep long enough to compare to my bills got sandwiched into the pile in numerous places. My dad and I still exchange snail mail letters and his latest one was on the pile waiting to be answered. A tea bag sample pulled off a catalog, a stack of old photos I’d found and thought might be fun on Throw Back Thursdays for FB, reminders, appointment cards, business cards I needed to file, the questionnaire for the lawyer to redo my will and trust paperwork, TurboTax waiting for the last tax documents to arrive (If I put it away, I might forget I’ve purchased it and go out for a second copy.) a new CD that I haven’t loaded onto my computer yet, a charity I meant to write a check for and half a dozen recipes that FB friends posted that I simply have to try. Now the pile is so untidy and large it spills into my workspace.
And I haven’t even written the end. In fact I’m a long way from the end. I can’t put it off any longer. Like all the rest of my housekeeping, my desk finally gets cleaned off when I can no longer ignore it.
And that’s why this blog post is up later than usual today. (I even took a detour long enough to deal with one of my must-do items.) So, back to what my desk is a sign of. I'm hoping this tidier and better organized desktop is the sign of a productive writer with a story worth the telling in my mind.