Thursday, August 4, 2011


My office is a cluttered mess.  The rest of my house is just fine; it's just my office. I'm basically a neat, orderly person, but somehow my office gets out of hand at times.  It's the catch-all for things I mean to look at later or my husband doesn't know where else to put.  On my walls are a poster of one of my early books, an award with a framed copy of The Bracelet, a painting of one of my book covers, four framed certificates, a picture of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, drawings by four of my grandchildren, a small framed picture with the names of a previous Primary class surrounding the Savior, a painting of a horse by one of my daughters, and half a dozen family photographs.  Oh, and a calendar with big squares to write in and kittens to make a grandson, who is crazy about kittens, happy when he visits me.
My desk is worse.  Along with a stack of envelopes that need to be filed, a box of tissue, and the DSL modem, there's an accumulation of mementos from friends and readers such as a decorated rock, a sugar Easter egg, a purple stemmed goblet from a Mystery Dinner, a handmade ceramic pitcher, a plush goose, a paperweight style award, and a heart-shaped box.  That's just the top.  The so-called writing surface holds my monitor, keyboard, telephone, rolodex, pens, pencils, piles of paper, a couple of small files, notebooks, a bottle of lotion, and one of my sets of scriptures. That's also where the bare bones of my work in progress resides. 
I'll spare you the details of three floor to ceiling bookcases, a printer, a paper cutter, four file cabinets, two plastic bins and all the accumulated boxes, office equipment, and sundry items that adorn or occupy space under an eight feet long table.  On one shelf of the bookcase is my stack of "to read" books.  At least I try to keep the piles neat.
I already said I'm basically a neat, orderly person so every once in awhile, but not often enough, I tear the whole room apart, go through every paper, clean every file, shred, discard, clean, and reorganize.  No matter how much I itch to do a thorough cleaning while writing, I don't.  Most of the time I vacuum, dust what I can, and keep the piles neat.  A thorough cleaning only happens between books.
My writing style is a lot like my office or my office is the way it is because of my writing style.  I research before and during without throwing anything out.  I never know what I might need.  Sometimes I outline; sometimes I don't. I write notes to myself.  I create lists of names and characteristics.  I utilize two notebooks, a file folder, post-its, and several notepads. I jot down ideas. I make quick scene outlines.  Sometimes I print out a few pages for fast reference when I'm writing a follow up scene.  Add to that my notes for reviews in progress.
Once I think the story is in pretty good shape, I send it off to my beta readers.  I don't throw anything away.  When I get the readers' feedback, I plunge back into the story, fixing this, fixing that, and discover ideas have been circulating in my head while waiting that need to be incorporated into the story or used to strengthen a point.  When I'm satisfied I've done the best I can do, I send it to my editor.  I still don't clean up or discard anything. 
After varying lengths of time, if and when I get an acceptance, the rewrites begin and I refer to my notes and scribbles.  I'm glad I didn't throw anything away. I add exchanges with my editor, print outs of various stages , etc. to my files and clutter.
At last the book is off to the printer and out of my hands.  Do I clean up all the clutter at last?  Not really.  I scoop it all into a file to sort through later.  You see, I started another book while waiting for word from my beta readers; added to it while waiting for a yes or no from my editor, and I have a whole new pile of clutter.
*The August Wish List contest is on!  I'm not setting a specific theme this month, so just comment on any of my August blogs here or on the V-Formation or my Meridian reviews.


Lisa said...

YOu are a person after my own bad habits. But in my and probably your defense, I do know where every what is in those piles and no I don't want any help cleaning them up. Just remember a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind.

taylorfamily83316 said...

I had to laugh, so sorry. But, the reason I laugh, is that my office is so similar to yours. I had to clean it about 2 months back to fit in the desk we acclimated from my Mom's house, setting it up to be more organized and neater. Yeah, that didn't turn out so well, as I now sit looking at piles of "important" lists, partially finished crafts and other items tha I need to find a place for and cannot throw away. I even realized today that the birthday cards that I need to send out to the Relief Society sisters for this week, are still sitting here. I am usually not this bad, so hopefully soon, I can get my desk, and office tidied up so I can find the things that I need. I will hope for that for you too!
Take Care!

Lisa And Randy said...

I know what you are talking about when it comes to office clutter. My office also doubles as a place for my parents to stay when they visit. They bring their own blow up bed and bedding. My daughter also thinks the room is her dressing area, since it is next to her bedroom and has a full length mirror. I'm usually having to quickly put away my pictures and tables, or have to ask my youngest to remove her clothes, make up, or hair accessories. I won't even discuss all the papers and notes I usually end up having to sort through on a regular basis. Hopefully, I can sometime be so organized that everything has its own place and actually makes it there instead of being sat down somewhere. At least I can shut the door, unlike my computer desk in the family room. One day???

Sara said...

If you can write the kind of quality books you write, your office can look like WWIII! Just keep using that creative mind!