Susan Sarah here, waking up with sniffles, fever and sore throat–ugh!–so the day isn’t starting out quite as I’d planned. Having finished a whirlwind copyedit, I was all set to blitz through cleaning up my desk and office, get all those little ducks in a row, and move forward on the current book project. Plowing through the assorted flotsam and jetsam on the desk can be a daunting task, and one I’m usually more than willing to procrastinate.
However, instead of moving ahead, I am stuck here feeling like crud, whupped by a virus that oh-so cleverly masqueraded yesterday as allergy symptoms (we were out picking cherries from the cherry trees in the backyard), and now has revealed itself as something to be reckoned with. I’m sitting here staring at what ought to be done, mustering the energy to do something about it. When the window is small and definite and there are things on the docket, often a force greater than ourselves (aka, a dastardly Rhinovirus) can quickly interfere with even the best-laid plans.
I’ll pluck another tissue from the box, drop another of those fizzy wafers with Vitamin C, zinc and whatever-else into a glass of water (generic or brand-name, that stuff definitely seems to help), and I’ll go crawl back under the covers for a while … but first I thought I’d at least take inventory of what’s on the desk.
There’s the stuff that needs to be filed, shelved or tossed … there are things that stay here for the duration of a book project … and there are things that I keep on or near my desk — things with meaning or that inspire me, things that remind, support, distract, nudge, etc. And then there’s a layer of accumulated Stuff, the ephemera as well as the essentials that cross every writer’s path daily. I’ve never quite figured out what to DO with all this stuff — we live in an age of an excess of information — and for me, the occasional purge seems to be the best solution. I’m not one to keep on top of things. That would be too left-brained for me. I tend to thrive on a little comfortable chaos; when it gets past that point, it’s time to act.
1. Flat screen monitor with sticky notes: “Writing novels is the most fun I’ve ever had” – Sidney Sheldon (sometimes true, sometimes NOT); notes on a couple of appointments that I need to remember
2. Two yellow legal pads; one covered in scribbled notes taken during the copyedit; one filled with notes for the book-in-progress about Queen Margaret of Scotland
3. My cell phone, which I’d better put back in my purse before I go out tomorrow
4. Hand sanitizer; I have a cold; that stuff didn’t work this time…
5. Rescue Remedy – a must-have, it is fabulous
6. Small tabletop stereo with a little pewter dragon sitting on it
7. A phone cradle, but where’s the cordless phone that goes in it?
8. Sticky notes and colored tabs left over from the copyedit
9. Two or three black and white composition books (green and blue, to be exact). I often use these for notes and thoughts, and have for years; they’re simple and straightforward, tough and easy to tote around, easy to find and always affordable, and can be neatly stacked on a shelf (sometimes I even do that)
10. A book of harp music; I’m taking lessons in Celtic harp, and currently I’m in the plink-plonk-ploink stage; nothing to boast about, trust me
11. Bunches of pens, pencils, highlighters, scissors etc., in a red plaid bucket
12. Lavender hand lotion
13. A couple of little angels (for years I’ve collected angels in all sizes, shapes and sorts; there are some in nearly every room in the house now)
14. A fairy in a waterglobe
15. A Scottish elf captured in a jar
16. Stacks of CDs that need to be put away
17. A deep scattering of printed e-mails, notes and reminders …
18. A vase of yellow carnations and heathery fronds
19. And somewhere under all this, a desk surface
I am contemplating taking a shovel to this stuff, but for now I think I’ll shut down the computer and go crawl away with my box of tissues to fetch a cup of tea. Tomorrow I’ll tackle this task…
Meanwhile, what’s on your desk? What is always there, brings you luck and inspires you? What should you toss but keep procrastinating over? And are you the master of your environment, or does it take over until you finally muster forces and deal with it?