Making a Mess

the kiddo after playing in the rain--2004
the kiddo after playing in the rain--2004

How important is a clean desk? What could I straighten out that would straighten out the clutter in my head? It is hard to tell what work I should be doing?

What I have done is post page two of the latest novel. And I’ve finished a promise I made that I very much wanted to do but felt unable to get through until today.

But nothing feels cleaned up and polished. Nothing ever feels done. Like telling stories. I can’t ever be done telling stories, can I really? So why doesn’t any story ever feel finished?

5 thoughts on “Making a Mess

  1. Because, for writers, the words can ALWAYS be improved, can always be further enhanced, better metaphors made, better similes, better descriptions, better, better, better … we’re TRAINED to be like this, by our own imagination, by the industry once we start trying to be published, by our teachers, but mostly by our own vigilant pursuit of perfect prose … which doesn’t exist, of course.

    Nothing abnormal I can see. Heck, I’m still going over conversations I’ve had years prior in my head, improving the wording.

  2. I never feel as if anything is neat and finished. My head is always full of clutter… and that’s actually why I write everything down. It helps manage the clutter.

    Then I’m left with piles of paper and lots of external clutter, but it’s really a manifestation of the inside of my head. The more paper clutter there is on the desk, the more my head feels organized.

    Not quite true. I need the right kind of clutter on my desk. My graphs and lists and research books and files and copies and journals and plans and all that.

    If I’m just throwing unopened mail and old kid’s drawings there, I’m in trouble, like now.

    Plus, I want to know about your other novels. Everytime I read your stuff I want to start writing in my first novel again. But I feel there’s so much going on, two or three new novels, art, poetry, blogs, kids… how do I get back to that old novel? Can I ignore the new ones?

    How do you know which way to go?

    I think I’m getting geared up to start writing again. It’s been more on my mind lately.

  3. I’m with Rowena–I need the right kind of clutter. A sparse desk is a lot of pressure, too much focus on what’s in front of me, oddly enough. If I have peripheral clutter–like the print-out, pen and paper to jot notes, thesaurus–it relaxes me, makes me feel like I’m really working. I think that’s why I have trouble working in the house, it’s not the right kind of clutter. Toys and laundry lying around are a sure-fire interruption to my writing circuitry.

    I enjoyed the Facebook series of photos more than I can say. I’m not sure how you figured out how to push my warm/fuzzy buttons, but you do. πŸ™‚ And btw, I bet the book will look finished to me. That’s how it goes. But I know how you feel.

  4. I sort of agree with DarcKnyght, about always wanting to improve the words. I’m never never ever completely happy with the words.

    But — at least in my case — the bigger problem is the story. Every story, from short-short to novel, is only a snapshot, like an image in one of those black-and-white strips of photos from amusement-park and mall photo booths. There’s a huge storyline which precedes and surrounds this storyline, whatever it is, and there’s a huge storyline to come. So I have to select an almost arbitrary narrative starting and stopping point, not just for the work as a whole but for each chapter (and each section within each chapter). The torturous doubt about whether it’s finished is really just the translation of doubts about whether I made all those begin-and-end decisions rightly.

    You don’t want to know about my desk. Luckily, I have a gift for ignoring unsightliness if what’s directly in front of me is interesting enough. πŸ™‚

  5. Story tellers are never done telling stories – it’s what they do – because life is never done. And even when our particular life is finished, there are other lives to pick up the next chapter and continue on. πŸ™‚

    I have to say, I was always a pretty messy kid. Then in my 20’s I got a hold of some organizing books and fell in love with the whole process. I used to go along with that little saying, “A clean desk is a sure sign of a sick mind,” but now I tend to think, “A clean desk hides the sickness so no one will ever know, unless they look in the file drawer under ‘S.'” πŸ˜‰

    I still haven’t quite given up on that becoming a professional organizer dream either.

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