Monday, May 23, 2016

School's Out, Writing and Editing is In. But First: Clean up that room!

When the academic year ends, along with most of my teaching commitments, I like to (well, maybe not like to, but need to) sort out the piles that accumulate everywhere--on my office floor and shelves, atop the filing cabinets, on the plastic bins (the ones I keep promising myself to move to the attic), and all across my writing table. (I don't have a desk; when I redid my home office a few years ago, I bought a "seats six" dining room table instead so I'd always have a gloriously deep, wide, and clear surface. Deep and wide, yes. Clear -- not so much.)

The de-cluttering marks a mental divide almost more than a physical one. I need to tackle the summer months' client editorial projects and my own writing, with a sense of order, and for me that means clear surfaces, less detritus, and a visual sense of calm and organization. 

I'm just two hours in on the blast-and-clear task, and already I'm tired. There's a strong (Kondo-esque?) temptation to simply toss every single sticky note, piece of paper, file folder, envelope, book, magazine, and business card into one big garbage bag. But there's also the knowledge that I've been keeping all of it for a reason. And I have. 

I've uncovered the very-messy-but-promising drafts of nine possible new short essays (part of the summer writing); two books  I want to read for background (and which I almost ordered again last week) for a long essay still in the maybe-I'll-write-it-maybe-I-won't stage; the card of someone who could be helpful; and countless pages and scraps I've torn from magazines and newspapers that I wanted around for all kinds of reasons. Now the information is finding its way into the (electronic or paper) files of the appropriate projecst.

Among the scraps is a quote from an NPR interview with the author of a memoir near the top of my to-be-read pile. 

Here's writer and editor Roger Angell, 
age 95:

"Writing is hard for everybody, and I mistrust writers who find it easy. And it's still hard for me after all these years, but that's probably a good sign that it is."

I'll be diving into his memoir, This Old Man: All in Pieces, soon (the New Yorker essay of the same name was stunning). 

And I'll keep clearing the space to think, to write. Until I'm 95, I hope.

Images:  Messy office - mine; Writer at desk - Flickr/Creative Commons - Drew Coffman

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