Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Does Neatness Stifle Creativity?

I told myself that I'd have an incredibly tidy home office space before beginning my writer in residence term. Didn't happen. The pile atop my filing cabinet is looking secure--nothing will slide off unless there's a 5.0 or greater. The floor has many clear areas. Lots of space for the dogs to curl up. I am in need of more shelving space as there are several books blotting the carpet.

The key surface is my desk. There is a brand new windshield wiper that's been there for two months. (Is it really so hard to replace them? Shouldn't I at least try? I have this vision of driving into a service station for assistance and driving out with a several-thousand-dollar repair bill for a new engine and door handle replacements. Sucker!) Apart from auto accessory, everything else has some logical reason for cluttering my desk--a brochure about a local writers' festival, a dictionary, my Fouling Out binder, a snow globe with my dogs' pictures, and lots of Post-its and tiny notepad sheets with random "nuggets" of writing. I keep the little papers spread out because I've got it in my head that if I put them in a neat pile, I'll only see the top paper and all the other ideas will be forgotten. Now don't try to talk logic with me. I'm rationalizing my mess and I'm fine with that.

If I ever completely cleaned my work area, would I become more productive and clear thinking as a writer? Or would I stagnate in the sterile environment? Would I lose my most brilliant idea ever by taking twenty minutes to clean off my desk? I suspect I'll never know.

I think there are two types of people in the world: the Tidies and the Messies. So much of the conflict in the world comes from a lack of understanding between these groups and a desire of the Tidies to convert the Messies. Has it ever worked? I don't think so. (Show me a convert and I'll suggest the individual has experienced deep psychological trauma.)

Here comes a confession. I have two home offices in my house. Two! Last year, I used the room downstairs for my writing and left the room on the main floor for miscellaneous mess (er, school work, bills, important things that inv0lved lots of papers that defied easy filing). I haven't ventured into the room downstairs this summer. Through fall, winter and spring, it's accumulated a broken weed eater (which I'll never fix but I can't seem to surrender to landfill), stacks of magazines (that I never look back on, but I keep just in case), patio items I no longer like and a large bowl of Halloween candy. (Each year, I panic and think there could be a hundred hungry trick-or-treaters. In reality, I had three. I'll confess that the good stuff's all gone, but how can I throw away candy?)

I could go on and on. You get the picture, don't you? If you're one of the Tidies, I can see your shoulders tightening and your nose crinkling. Shake it off! It's going to be all right. You can limit your visits to cyberspace.

Back to the writing...Where is that idea I'd scribbled yesterday?

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