If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk? (Dr. Laurence J. Peter)
I had a goal last weekend of cleaning off my desk. I put it off as long as I could Saturday. Even washed windows instead of tackling the piles of accumulated papers, book catalogs, notes and cards, to do lists, etc. on my desk while I was meeting some writing deadlines the last couple of months. Now I have more deadlines out there whispering “You’d better get started.” But I needed to undo some of the clutter first. Give myself a fresh start.
While I don’t pretend to compare my books with Pearl Buck, I do understand where she is in the following quote.
In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write. (Pearl S. Buck)
At a beginning. You can almost see that stack of paper awaiting the stroke of her pen. I understand the ream of paper. I know the feeling 500 fresh sheets of paper used to bring me. So many possibilities as I rolled that first blank sheet into my typewriter. Now I look at the blank computer screen. It doesn’t evoke quite the same picture or feeling, but at the same time an almost unlimited space is out there that I can fill up with my stories.
So I sifted through the piles on my desk and stuffed some things here and others there and found my desk. And my need to begin again. Perhaps my cluttered desk did signal a cluttered mind, but I don’t know that I want a “clean” mind. A writer needs some clutter. I may need to push it aside so I can catch a clear vision of my story, but I will have to reach back into that clutter to pull out emotions and experiences and things lurking back there in my subconscious that right now, I have no idea are even there. But I have that “mood of faith and hope” that the right words, the right story will surface once I’m brave enough to type Chapter 1.
It’s a new historical. And so this last quote speaks to me.
The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike. (Ralph Ellison)
That’s what I’m doing now at the beginning. Reaching back into the past. Finding out things. Stirring them into the murky soup of story making and hoping for a boiling plot of true events peopled by my fictional characters.
But whatever I write in the weeks ahead, at least I did meet my goal and find the top of my desk last Saturday. New goal – write! What goals do you set for yourself? And what’s your desk look like?
As always, thanks for reading.