Cleaning House

This weekend, I was feeling weighed down and buried under. And sure, I’ve got things to be stressed and worried about—but I have a lot of really positive things going on in my life too. As I usually do in these situations, I started looking around and asking myself, “Okay, then what’s the problem?” As I looked at my bed, floor, bookshelves, and dresser, I realized my living space was quite literally buried under stuff. This weekend, I’ve been digging out.

Part of the problem is that I’ve moved back into my childhood bedroom, a bedroom that stayed pretty much full while I lived in Michigan and collected more stuff. Another part of the problem is my chronic disorganization and inability to put my things back in their place when I’m done with them. I’ve been trying to deal with my stuff since I moved back almost a year ago (!!) but then the files I was filing papers in got left in the middle of the floor, mid-file, and became MORE of the problem instead of the solution they were supposed to be. I actually solved my laundry system a few weeks ago, but failed to implement my system after the next time I did laundry, so once again it didn’t help (although the system did work, once I started using it again). Follow-through is my issue; I can clean and organize just fine, but keeping it that may be a life-long battle. Still, having a harmonious workspace is so important to accomplishing anything creatively. This happened in college too. Gotta write an essay or make an illustration? Clean your room. It feels like the worst kind of procrastination, but it’s also the most necessary preparation. Getting your space in order helps get your brain in order. It lets you think.

I’ve made huge improvements to my space in the last few days. I may have put the files in the chest under my bed along with everything else that still needs to be filed. Even if I haven’t finished the filing system, I got it off the floor. The big box of college notebooks and memories that blocked the way to my bookshelf is now also under the bed, and blessedly out of sight. Today, I sorted through cards and correspondence going back to elementary school. I’m trying to create systems for future storage, and I’m trying to make my space more pleasant and functional (how about hanging my earrings on a screen instead of keeping them in crowded boxes on my dresser? And what about framing and hanging those posters?). I’m also working really hard on the follow-through. The most important part of this is that current projects cannot be left out on the floor when I go to bed at night. They must be dealt with and put away.

This photo shows a scrap of the recently liberated floorspace, as well as all the BOOKS I can now access unimpeded.

This photo shows a scrap of the recently liberated floorspace, as well as all the BOOKS I can now access unimpeded. You can’t see it in this photo, but there’s another large bookshelf to the right, behind the door.

So that’s what’s been going on here. It’s not very exciting, but it’s a big deal for my personal well-being. I love being able to reach my bookshelf, and I love actually wanting to spend time in the place I sleep every night.

I know I still owe two Race to the 8th prizes. I hope to get them to you very soon! There’s also some other bits of news I should tell you, but this is all for tonight. Cheers!


Old Stuff, Old Vanya

So I’ve had a bad week, or two. Despite my grandly worded, Lets-Get-To-It! last post, I have fallen into a writing funk. Again, I’m not saying Writers’ Block, I’m saying lazy. Also, the lack of a proper desk. I don’t think working on the couch is doing it for me, now that working requires going back and forth between the printed manuscript and the computer. It’s too many things for one lap! In the next few days, I hope to develop better work habits for this part of the project. There have been other extenuating circumstances that made working difficult, but you don’t care about any of that. My point is I’m sorry for not maintaining this site better in the interim, and thanks for sticking around. I am getting back to doing all those things that I was so fired up about the last time I posted.

One thing I have been doing, in addition to getting back into running and finishing up a free-lance painting job, is cleaning my room and filing everything I’ve ever created from elementary school onward. I won’t be living at home forever, in fact I’d very much like to get out within the year, but I plan to leave my bedroom finished, organized, and well-designed when I go. This way it can be a proper guest room for my parents instead of a disaster area. The problem right now is that everything I’ve owned in my life and everything I acquired in college is trying to co-exist in a room significantly smaller than the one I had in my college apartment. I’m attempting to downsize, but… I’m a writer. Organization skills do not come naturally.

Also, I’m a writer. I’m a paper-person. I’ve been a writer and a paper-person since second grade. I’ve heard that some writers throw out all their old work, but I’ve never been able to do that. To me, all those raw ideas are so valuable. Someday I might want to write a book for third graders, and those stories I wrote in third grade about a girl finding an injured baby pegasus might provide just the starting point I need. And what about the story I started in fifth and sixth grade that was supposed to be my first novel, about the slave-girl-turned-rescuer with twin black unicorns and a glowing sword? I’d like to turn that into a cool little book for a middle-grade audience, someday when I have the time.

So that’s me, saving everything. The problem is I also saved all the binders (and Lisa Frank trapper keepers) going back to third grade, and binders and notebooks take up a lot of space. Now I’m going through and removing all those valuable stories, and tossing the binders and recycling all the rest. I’m saving so much space. It’s a process, though. You’d think I could toss a whole binder full of science notes, except I probably got bored during science class and started writing an epic story. I have to go through everything. Yesterday, I found some fake journal entries of soldiers in trenches during WWII that I wrote in 11th grade, for a combined history and creative writing assignment. They were fairly over-dramatic, but also surpisingly powerful, and showed some growth in my writing voice. I also find tidbits of Vanya everywhere, like this sketch from the back of some Art History flashcards my freshmen year of college: I’d seen some boys in France who pulled off the hair-in-a-high-ponytail look really well, and I was fooling around with whether that would work for Vanya in the second book. (The answer is probably not, since it makes him look even more like a girl, but there’s still something about it I kind of like.) I even found some narrative on the back of the card:

…his hair had grown, of course, and he had taken to wearing it up in a sort of topknot, or messy bun. Strands of the blonde were forever escaping to blow around his face. This did nothing to decrease his femininity, and as a result both boys and girls were always staring…

This is also when Vanya was still the “emo kid,” with his fishnet shirt, although it looks like I was finally on my way to figuring out how to draw his cheekbones and jaw-line. Shows how things change: for the current version of the book, I decided the fishnets weren’t necessary for his character, and I no longer wanted to look at them in every illustration.

Do you keep everything you’ve ever written, or are you more the light-it-all-on-fire every few years type? Feel free to drop a line in the comments below. 🙂