Auld Lang Syne

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cleaning my office

Let's face it, I am a stacker. I have stacks of books and notebooks, along with a huge stack (a few stacks) of printed poems and workshop handouts and assorted other "stuff" I might need some day.  Every few weeks I vow to get the whole thing organized. I do a fair amount of organizing and then get sidelined by my own writing. I sit down at the computer or find a notebook that has some appealing lines or phrases in it and I am done with the cleaning. I don't even know what to think about myself in terms of this never-ending tide of stacks and clutter. It is not that I am heading for one of those hoarding shows on TV. No. It is more that I can't seem to get myself into a system. I have space for everything (mostly) and yet I find myself with a desk that gets piled upon and several stacks of books and projects that I might work on at any given moment. I have an office that is ample and with a supply closet that is unheard of space-wise in a Victorian house. I ought to be able to BE as organized as I'd like to be. Ha!

I am busy. That is one of the problems. And I am a multi-tasker. BIG part of the problem. If only I could just work on one thing, be done with it, send it out, and begin on the next thing. Sounds so good, doesn't it? But my brain is so busy that I pop back and forth in my interests. Thus the multiple projects underway at any given moment. The great news here is, of course, that I am never bored. In fact, I frequently exhaust myself from all the work in progress.

Here is a little sample of what is on tap for me right now:

1. Richard Wilbur Project:

   An in-depth study of his poetry since 1947, annotated with commentary as to culture and society

2. Millay Project:

   A collection of original poems written in response to Millay's poems along with
   persona poems written (hopefully faithfully) from INSIDE Millay's life

3. Revision of poems written in the past two years which for some reason have not been picked up for publication

4. Submit Psalms From the Commons (a collection of psalm-poems that invoke everyday life. Where to send????

5. Finish The Boyfriend Project manuscript (fine-tune) and submit. Where to send????

These five major things are not even part of my tenure as Poet Laureate. I have a plethora of work to do there as well.

All of the above are exciting projects, keeping my attention and interest.

But the list and the load are keeping my office a jumble. On Sept 6th I am headed off for a long weekend out to sea (Star Island, AO). After that, I will definitely set aside a few days to finish cleaning this office. I think actually that if it is REALLY organized, all of the above will be easier. The big deal part of this is the bookshelves. I need to get a grip there. I have decided to take all of the books off and restructure. I once alphabetized. A nightmare. Every time I got a new book, I had to shimmy the books along to make room. It was fine unless the book was at the start of the alphabet. ALL books then had to move over by one. UGH. So now what I will do is go by gender. I have more books by male authors (go figure). I may end up with an entire bookcase of men. I will also remove any and all books "about," including biography. These definitely need a spot of their own.

I have been shredding like mad. Each day I shred old poem copies (do I need ten of each?) and receipts and errant mail with my address on it. I believe in staving off identity theft wherever possible. We have a good shredder. It is in my office, so all family shredding happens in here too.

I have also been putting things in file folders. I have so many poetry handouts for use in workshops and  mentoring. I need these so I am not creating anew each time. But it is time to have them REALLY organized. I have beautiful file folders and a nice file cabinet. I also have a wire folder basket that sits near my desk for easy access. Old stuff in the file cabinet, newer (in use) stuff in the wire basket. It's a process.

It has occurred to me to hire a professional organizer. I toy with that every time I attempt a major overhaul of the space. But how would I know where she put everything? How would she know what I cannot live without? Grrr. Obviously this is a DIY deal.

I recently spent a couple afternoons sitting on the floor of my office taking on the paper stacks. I am happy to report these are now organized and in file folders. Next step is organizing the file cabinet and wire basket to do what they are here to do for me. My desktop is clean and organized. Mostly. I am on my way. After Star, I will get the rest done. I may invite one of my poet friends over to do the bookcases with me. What a day that would be. We'd have to consume a LOT of wine I think. Yeah, that sounds like a plan. OK, who will I invite? Who might actually say yes?