I recently read a poem by Tom Chester titled Sedimentology (Sedimentology – TURN-STONE) in which he more or less describes my writing room. I don’t know about all writers but some I know have a similar problem – collections of words that pile up in various forms to make hillocks and eventually mountains of paper, bound and unbound. I looked around my room and decided that this weekend would be dedicated to moving those mountains. Books were replaced on shelves where they belonged – the easiest task. It took the better part of two days, but I excised a Hefty bag full of detritus that has been collecting for weeks and months; piles on every horizontal surface including the floor. The remaining notes, papers, letters, and clippings were properly classified and tucked into labeled file folders, then housed in one of three file cabinets according to their category: business, personal, or writing references. I also have a small box of mementos that don’t fit in files but will reside on a shelf in a closet until I forget why I kept them.
These pictures are not MY writing room but a close proximity to what it looked like. I didn’t take a photo of my room in its disarray.
The file labeled Bits and Pieces is the thickest. It contains jagged pieces of envelopes and napkins, published thought-provoking articles, and scribbled lined-pages of half thought out ideas that didn’t make it into one of my notebook/journals. The journals, themselves, take up a couple of shelves in a bookcase. Much of the time spent in this exercise was rereading those precious scraps of writing, so urgently recorded that, at one time, seemed quite brilliant; tossing most. The saved ones are worthy of becoming a short story, a poem, or a blog post. I rediscovered letters from friends that need to be answered – better late than never. Of course, my three cat-comrades, Nunny Catch, Oliver, and Sadie, assisted by roaming among the sorted piles, and across my lap insisting on head rubs while I sat on the floor where they could easily reach me. It was labor, long overdue, and totally worth the effort. A cleansing of sorts. Now I can enter my tidy room and get right to my desk without moving or avoiding piles. Ahh, that feels good. The sad reality is that those mountains will rebuild over the next year – despite the best of intentions.