Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Comforting Clutter

Thought for the day: When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. [Franklin Roosevelt]


We may not be at the end of our ropes, but we sure are approaching the end of the year at a breakneck speed. Before we know it, it'll be a brand new shiny year, and we can all make fresh starts. More or less.

At any rate, it's time for the last monthly gathering of the year for that fine group known as the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This, the first Wednesday of the month, is when writers all over the world post about the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the ins and outs... of writing. We celebrate... we complain... we commiserate. Whatever we need, this is the place to find it. Humble thanks and a jolly tip of the Santa hat go to Alex Cavanaugh, our fearless ninja leader and the originator of this fine group. If you'd like to join (It's FREE!) or would like to read some of the other posts, please go HERE

Years ago, when we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant, I got the coolest fortune ever in my cookie. So cool, in fact, that it's still pinned to the bulletin board here in my office. It says, You have a charming way with words and should write a book. 

SEE? Totally cool, right? If I opened a fortune cookie today, it would probably say something obnoxious about writer's block.

Not that I have it. Exactly. I just don't feel motivated to work on my WIP. My gut tells me not to let lousy sales figures and the dearth of reviews for book one of my trilogy stop me from forging ahead with books two and three... but my brain seems to have a different opinion. I'm still writing... in short spurts... but my brain seems to be sitting in the corner with its back to me. Pouting. But since I've never been one to hold a grudge, I'm hopeful my brain will get with the program and snap out of it soon. I am excited at where the story's going... I just have to get it there... in due time, I suppose.

Sigh. Enough belly-aching. I'm not feeling particularly insecure or blocked. Just lazy. (Well, you have heard of a Lazy Susan, haven't you...?)





Okay, let's move on to this month's question, shall we?









What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

The major thing in here is my desk. It's a huge L-shaped beauty with lots of room for all of my organized chaos.

 Hmmm, I guess I should've tidied up a bit, but why put on the dog, right? (Besides, our cats wouldn't appreciate it.)

In the center of the L sits my computer. Surprisingly, there isn't a cat's derriere parked in front of it at the moment. To the right of the computer is my all-time favorite mug: Pink Freud. Nine times out of ten, if I'm working at the computer, that mug is right there beside me.


The equally messy left side of my desk contains a small bookshelf. There are a few very good reference books there... and also, just some very good books. There's a much larger bookshelf behind me... also filled to the brim with books.


The right side of the desk contains a bunch of CDs, the printer and... Dash. (She and Dot usually keep me company in here... and they are oh-so helpful.) So I guess you could say the cats are an integral part of any writing endeavor... or any other activity, for that matter. Like I said, they are extremely helpful.

See that print of Dali's Last Supper hanging on the wall? I bought it on a school field trip to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. many years ago. Know what's totally cool about it? Smarticus was also on that same field trip, and out of allllll the art in the museum gift shop, he bought the same exact print. It was several years later before we realized we'd purchased the same piece. (See? We were meant to be!)


I'm not satisfied with only having one messy desk in my office... so I have two! This one was built by my paternal grandfather, so it's kinda special. The stack of stuff with the notebook and pen on top is where the magic happens. HA! (If only...) I carry the whole pile into the living room in the early morning, and write in that notebook until Smartacus gets out of bed. Also in the pile? A dictionary, thesaurus, The Emotion Thesaurus, and a bunch of notes and outlines in the yellow folder. That little stack of books in the back include several military manuals about munitions, booby traps and unconventional warfare. Don't worry. I'm not planning a coup. I used them while doing research for Explosive Beginnings.


I guess that covers my five things... desk, computer, Pink Freud, books, and cats, but I'm going to highlight one of the things on my big desk. The picture on the bottom. The fella in the foreground is Smartacus, and the picture was taken when he was in Vietnam. Keeping that picture where I can readily see it every day is one way to remind myself to never take him for granted.


Well, folks, I don't want to take you guys for granted, either. I've taken up more than enough of your time.

So until next time, please take care of yourselves. And each other.






















61 comments:

  1. I have never ever seen the remotest hint that you take Smarticus for granted. In any way.
    I hear you on the helpful cat front. And the messy desks and crowded bookshelves as well.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Thank you. I TRY not to take him for granted, but it can be soooo easy to fall into that trap. Keeping that old picture nearby really does help.

      HA! We may be on opposite sides of the globe, but we live parallel lives...

      You have a wonderful weekend, too.

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  2. I know some top managers are supposed to have tidy desks, but as I don't know any, I've rarely experienced one. I have three desks - for computer, for sewing and for crafting, and all are messy, but I feel good at each of them! I am sure that when the time is right you will be able to carry on and write the second book! Have a great time, hugs, Valerie

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    1. I DO clean up my desks fairly often, but the clutter somehow just... appears! HA. But it suits me. :)

      Thank you. Que sera sera.

      Hugs back atcha.

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  3. Greetings Susan. I've been on and off with my two novels for over a year now, as I sometimes feel stressed with having bipolar, and lack concentration at times, so I can understand where you are coming from. You've achieved a lot with getting a novel published - your words are immortalised in our future time, so well done for that. As I live alone (besides my pet dog Sadie), my desk and computer are in the lounge, with a lot of space around me. Glad you have got some pets to enjoy their company. Blessings. Love love, Andrew.

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    1. Greetings, Andrew. Hang in there. If you have a fire to finish those books, you will. (You could always make a book of your poems...)

      Yes! Pets are a must. I can't imagine ever being without them. They're like the chocolate fudge on top of our sundae. :)

      Blessings back atcha.

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  4. That's kind of how I feel about what I'm working on right now.
    An old cat clock - wow. And is that an old landline phone? One that's not cordless? My mind is blown...

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    1. HA! Yeah, that's an old Kit-Kat clock, and an old landline phone, too. Believe it or not, it still works, but it draws so much juice, it's impossible to hear well if someone else gets on another extension. (YES! We have more than one landline phone!) (And I do NOT own a cellphone!)

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  5. Great fortune – I can see why you kept it.

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    1. Isn't it? That fortune makes me smile every time I read it.

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  6. I love the story of the Dali print, and the fact that you keep that picture of Smarticus around - definitely meant to be. :)

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    1. Thanks. It still stuns me a little that, out of all those prints available in that gift shop, we selected the same one. (But it IS an fantabulous painting!)

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  7. very fun desk area. Lots to keep you engaged...or distracted...however you want to go. You should probably rent some space to Liza at Middle Passages..go read her post.

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    1. Thanks. My office is my lady's cave, and I absolutely love having this space to myself. (And the cats.) It used to be our younger son's bedroom, and although we considered filling all their bedrooms with concrete after they moved out, (HA! Just kidding!) this office space for me won.

      Will do!

      Have a super weekend.

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  8. I don’t think your desk is messy. It is a room that is used, it has a purpose, you do what you love in there, and you surround yourself with precious things. Being lazy is fine also, as sometimes we need a break from “have to do”. However, at this point in life, “have to do” can be a gift also as it keeps our mind and body stimulated. I am looking for stimulation myself without being zapped by an electric prod.

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    1. Thank you! :) Messy's in the eye of the beholder.

      I kinda rebel at the idea of "have to do," but ironically, I find great comfort in routine. It keeps me moving forward. (Or in a circle, depending how one looks at it. HA!)

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  9. Oh my gosh what a great story about the Dali print! Love it. And I wish your kitty had had her derriere parked in front of the computer LOL. I love Dash supervising the printing. :)

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    1. HA! It's nothing short of a miracle that one of the cats wasn't blocking my screen. I'm soooo used to looking around them or moving their butts from my keyboard. :)

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  10. I love your work station. You have three times the space that I have here. A small desk and a smaller book shelf is what makes a mine. I used to have a cat that would keep me company much like your dash on the printer, but no longer have any, only good memories. Cluttered minds often think the same... I try to never take anything or anyone for granted.

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    1. Thank you. I feel very fortunate to have such a terrific space. It's like my own little "cave."

      Taking things or people for granted is a sure-fire recipe for heartache.

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  11. Midnight is often insistent that I have wasted enough time tapping my laptop and it is past time to get on with the important things like feeding him and playing with the rascal! :-)

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    1. Our four-legged companions DO deserve our time! At least yours let you do some unmolested tapping. Our cats usually want to be front and center, which means tapping around them. :)

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  12. Thank you so much for inviting us into your little world! (Yes, on more than one occasion I've tried to envision where/how my friends' create their posts.) Dash is beautiful; I've no doubt she and Dot are your helpmates.

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    1. You're very welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed taking a peek into my chaotic work space.

      Oh yeah. Dash and Dot are ALWAYS helpful. You should just SEE what terrific helpmates they are when I'm wrapping gifts! Afterwards, too. One year, all the pretty ribbons on the gifts got verrrrry well-chewed. (Now I hide them a little better...)

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  13. Thanks for sharing your writing space with us. I also keep a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus beside my computer. You can only get away with so much eye rolling, shrugging, and smiling, after all. Wishing you happy, less-lazy writing in December.

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    1. Right! That thesaurus really comes in handy.

      Thanks, but it IS December. With all the activities going on this month, I don't know how much writing I'll be doing, but I'm fine with that. :)

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  14. Geez, antique at your sea with the landline phone haha The cat clock is great. Only ever seen a few of those in houses. Can't let sales or reviews get you down, if that were the case I would have quit at book 5 maybe lol My last review was months ago and it was you.

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    1. Yep, we've got lots of antiques at our house. Not because we bought them as antiques, but because we've had them so long... and we still use them!

      Gotcha. Pbbbbt on sales and reviews. :)

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  15. I love the Einstein quote. I can't stand a lot of clutter, but then I don't do well with sterile emptiness either.

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    1. It's kinda funny. The ONLY place in our house that I allow to be messy is my office, but I'm very comfortable with it in here.

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  16. Love your desk, it's huge! Five things on my table; three notebooks with assorted scribbles, my phone, a tray with an assortment of pens pencils and scissors plus my inhaler, external speakers for when I want my playlist to be LOUD, and yesterday's newspaper. Of course my laptop is here too, and later there'll be a dinner plate. (I only have the one table for everything.)

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    1. Thanks! I've really enjoyed this desk. I wanted a roll-top desk, but an old one with lots of character... but the size of this one won the day.

      It sounds like you are very neat and organized. Most of the time, I am, too, but my desks have a way of attracting stuff. :)

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  17. Is it possible to be at the end of the year AND the end of one's rope at the same time?
    I've never liked the term "writer's block". It sounds too permanent. "Temporarily unmotivated" sounds better. Sort of.

    I enjoyed the tour of your computer desk - - and I'm kicking my ass for leaving my computer desk in Texas when I moved. I kept thinking I'll buy a new one but so far I haven't.

    I immediately noticed the Kit Kat clock on your wall. A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me his old plug-in Kit Kat clock. It's just like new - I don't think he ever used it. So now I have one in my kitchen!

    Why are cats so (annoyingly) fascinated with computers? My cat Bosco never fails to sit by my computer whenever I'm using it. I'm always afraid he'll jump on the keyboard - like he did a few years ago. He knocked two keys off of it and they couldn't be fixed.

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    1. BTW - I noticed you little Alf guy sitting on a chair. I FINALLY found the Alf that belonged to my mother (it was in the garage). It looks just like yours.

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    2. Yeah, I'm sure it's possible to reach the end of one's rope at the end of the year, but we're not gonna let that happen.

      YES! Absolutely. "Temporarily unmotivated" is the perfect description. I simply don't "feel like" working on the book right now, and that's fine.

      Sorry you left your computer desk behind. I've gotten so used to mine, I'd really miss it.

      I'm glad to hear you have a Kit Kat clock now. It's hard to feel grumpy when looking at one of those clocks.

      I don't think our cats are all that fascinated with computers; they just like to be nearby. VERY nearby. They will NOT be ignored.

      I'm glad to hear you found your mom's Alf. It tickles me to know your mom was an Alf fan, too... and tickles me even more to think of him sharing your abode with you.

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  18. Dear Susan, I notice the old Western Electric (?) desk phone is still with you. They don't have ringers but if you lift the receiver, you might make a time-traveling friend. Excellent post. Happy Birthday month, too!

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    1. Dear Geo, I figured you'd notice the phone. Yep, it's still with me. (I'm fiercely loyal to my stuff. :) )

      Happy birthday month to you, too, dude!

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  19. Get on and write, woman! Got my bossy head on today - but yes please ignore the lack of riches and reviews.
    I have a standing desk BTW due to being a fidget pants, it is a joyous kerfuffle of stuff! xx

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    1. HA! I will... in due time. :)

      Oh, I'm not really concerned about the sales. It'd be nice if more people who said they'd write reviews actually wrote them, but pbbbt! C'est la vie. I'm good. I've been writing some other stuff, but I'll get back to the WIP soon.

      I think a standing desk would be great. It's way too easy to lose track of time while sitting at a computer. For a while, I set a timer, so I'd get up every hour or so and do a little bit of exercise, but um... well... the best-laid plans, and all that.

      Yes! Exactly! A joyous kerfuffle of stuff! What a perfect description.

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  20. There are two reasons I didn't take a picture of my desk: 1) it's so messy that I can't find the desk itself 2) I rarely ever write there because of 1. :)
    I loved the prompt this month about our writing space objects - it's been so interesting. I love that you have a picture of the one you love right there.
    Here's to happy writing in December - hopefully no matter how many words pour out, we can find joy in them, right?

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    1. HA! I should probably be ashamed of myself for not taking a couple minutes to neaten up a bit before taking any pictures, but oh well. I yam what I yam.

      Happy writing to you, too, and you're absolutely right. It's all about the joy.

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  21. What wonderful pictures! I especially love the cat on the printer. Hehe... So, if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, how does it apply if I have no desk? *le gasp*!!!! I have no mind---Aaaaaaagh! I'm a mindless zombie who loves to write books... Nice angle, right? :P

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    1. Hmmm, if you have no desk, I reckon the premise doesn't apply to you. It isn't that you have no mind; it's more a matter of your thought processes having no manufactured limitations. How's that? (Um, unless you want to be a zombie...)

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  22. I don't have a desk anymore. I don't really miss one either, most of the time. I have a desk at work. I never get to sit down there though. One moment of sitting and the students mistake it for their free time. -_-

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    1. When I was in the workforce, I didn't much care about having a desk at home, either. Your students are doing you a good turn. Sitting isn't supposed to be good for you, and they're doing their best at keeping you on your feet. (Actually, I bet they keep you on your toes!) :)

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  23. My desk is messy and my bookshelves are overflowing too. I consider myself in good company knowing it is the same for you. :) I love the fortune cookie message. I would have kept that too.

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    1. Neatness is highly overrated. :)

      I know! That's the only fortune I ever kept...

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  24. Thanks for sharing your writing space with us.

    Happy Weekend Wishes

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks for visiting. :)

      The weekend's over now, so I'll wish you a very happy week. :)

      All the best back atcha.

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  25. Love your writing space. As far as clutter, the only time my space is tidy is right after I organize it. It never lasts long, but that's the fun of it. The deeper I get into the writing, the messier it gets. :) Then I hit that 'writers block' and have to clean it all up before I can write again. You'll get your groove back, it always returns. Enjoy the holidays, when you're ready the muse will return!

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks. Ironically, I cleaned my office shortly AFTER I took those pictures. HA. It's reaaaally nice and neat now, but I guarantee, it won't last long.

      I reckon my muse is enjoying her vacation right now, and that's fine. I hope she's someplace exotic like Tahiti.

      Merry Christmas to you, too!

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  26. Love it! I rarely can see the material of my desk - it's always covered in piles of stuff! I clean it but things happen and then it looks normal again :)
    Sounds like you and Smartacus were definitely meant to be!!!

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    1. I cleaned my desk yesterday... yesterday!... and it already looks "normal" again. Must be something in our water... :)



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  27. Reading the story of your desk and the things upon it was the best! I liked the stories behind the items, making them unique and interesting. Good luck with the WB, hope it leaves you alone soon so you can get on with that WIP!

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    1. Cool. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Thank you. Once the holidays are over, I should have more time for the WIP. I wrote a wee bit early this morning, and it felt pretty darned good.

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  28. Merry Christmas. Here’s the link to the video - https://www.dropbox.com/s/2w73rbjcd1m2jnc/joyeux-noel.mp4?dl=0

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    1. What a cheery video! Thank you, and a very Merry Christmas to you, too. I hope you get to see your grandchildren. :)

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  29. I love seeing everyone's writing spaces, especially those covered with cats :-)

    My sister's name is Susan so you can imagine all of the Lazy Susan jokes I made at her expense when we were kids.

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    1. Cats make any space better. :)

      Yeah, I can imagine. I was an accident-prone kid, so I was also called Black-Eyed Susan from time to time, too...

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