Tyrannosaurus Desk

I have a new love interest.

He’s tough, and sexy, and weighs about 300 pounds.

This, folks, is Tyrannosaurus Desk:

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I started looking for a proper desk recently, when I decided that a rickety vintage table wasn’t cutting it anymore. I had a few ideas in mind when I set out: something solid, made of real trees instead of sawdust, hopefully with storage. That was it. I mentioned it in passing at work, how I’d looked for something used but decent and hadn’t found a damned thing.

A coworker mentioned that her mom was looking to get rid of a desk, twenty-five bucks if I picked it up. She mentioned some scuffs and dings, but hey, for $25 I was willing to give it a shot.

I fell in love instantly.

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Storage!

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Storage!

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Hanging files!

It’s beautifully crafted – that’s a red leather blotter on top! Plus, as soon as my mom saw it, she said it looks like a “real writer’s desk”. What more could I want?

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(notes: 1. The blind is busted because my cats are assholes, 2. The lighters are for the candle; I don’t smoke. Why two? Why not? and 3. Because the desk is so big-slash-heavy, we can’t get it upstairs to the office, meaning there’s no real purpose for the office anymore, meaning the office is no more. HOWEVER, my genius husband suggested we make that room into a dressing room. Have I mentioned that I love this man?)

How To Procrastinate

Originally posted March 23, 2012.

Are you the type who methodically maps out your writing? Do you break stories or novels down into manageable pieces, finishing a self-imposed quota each day? Do you revel in knowing that your story or article will be complete well before it’s due?

You, my friend, are missing out on one of life’s little joys. I like to call it The Game of Procrastination.

It’s easy to play. First, and most importantly, you need a deadline. Those of you working on spec are lucky enough to have one built in, but for the indies you’ll have to make one up. (If you find yourself procrastinating on even setting a deadline, you are too advanced for this game. Move along.) You need a deadline, because you can’t tell you’re procrastinating until you have one looming over your head.

Now we begin.

Sit yourself down at your computer of choice. You might choose a laptop in a cafe; this is the easy way out. There will be a ton of distractions there, most of which won’t even feel like your fault. No. For this game you should be in the comfort of your own home. Boot up your word program of choice. Crack your knuckles if you need to. Roll your head on your neck. Begin.

Wait. Maybe you should pee first. You don’t want to reach your creative zone only to be interrupted by the rude call of nature. Okay. Now that you’ve taken care of that, begin. Begin, that is, after you’ve formatted your page. You’d only have to do it later so you might as well do it now. Now, try to remember that really delightful phrase you thought of when you were at your day job. What was it? Wait, didn’t you write it down? Maybe it’s still in your pocket. You’ve changed since you got home, though, so you have to dig the pants out of the laundry. The hamper is overflowing; take a quick break to go downstairs and start some laundry.

Pass the kitchen. Make some coffee. That’s what writers do, right? You are A Writer, and you deserve your vices.

Sit down while you wait for it to brew. No point in going up to your computer, only to come back down in five minutes. Efficiency, you are a paragon of efficiency. Notice a couple squirrels on the back deck. Begin to wonder about the connection between those squirrels. Are they siblings? Squirrely little lovers?

Coffee made and back upstairs. Write a line, question the spelling of “fuschia”, look it up online. You spelled it correctly! Congrats! But your Twitter tab shows updates. You should see what’s going on. Someone’s tweeting about a cultural event they’re participating in, and you begin to realize you don’t have a “culture” of your own, sure you know your ancestors originated in Europe but what does that mean, to you, as an individual in a melting-pot nation and you begin to realize how much you don’t know about your own country, for crying out loud, it’s a shame, and you go on Amazon…nay, Chapters.ca because you’re a Canadian, dammit, and you decide now would be a great time to learn about the War of 1812, so you write down the info for the book you want and make plans to buy it later and you’re proud of yourself for not falling into a WikiHole because you have WORK TO DO and your deadline is FAST APPROACHING.

Whew. Back to work. Write a paragraph.

This coffee isn’t strong enough. You’re still sleepy. Maybe grab a quick nap, so you can recharge your creative batteries.

Wake up hours later. Oops. It is dark out. Your deadline is midnight.

Jump on that idea you had, the one about the fuschia monster, and begin to bang the keys. Maybe you should shower. That’s where you do your best thinking. Check the time: you have three hours before your deadline. Okay, a five minute shower. The hot water is relaxing. A fifteen minute shower.

Back at your desk. Throw yourself into the story, try to hit that magical place where you’re seeing the story unfold in your mind’s eye and just capturing it with keystrokes. It’s almost there, dancing maddeningly just out of reach…Check the clock. You have two hours.

Pour it on. Your fingers move without you, like it’s them telling the story, not you, and it’s working, my God it’s working, and you lose yourself in it and you only remember to breathe because some part of your monkeybrain tells you to and you check the clock and it’s down to the last hour. Check your word count. You need twice as many words as you have, so you sit forward and tune out everything around you. The house could burn down around your chair and you would keep typing. You type faster than you even knew you could, and the images and the thoughts flow out of you and it’s like you’re not even there anymore, like the ideas are writing themselves, beamed down from some heavenly Muse and you just have to get the hell out of her way.

Clock check. Half hour. No time for full sentences.

Faster. Sweat prickles. Husband peeks in on the madwoman—Not now! I’ll be human in half an hour!—and you pound the keys and the monster attacks and your hero lives or dies but now is the time to wrap it up, seam the story together and you’re high on the feeling of it and you key the last words in with five minutes to spare.

But you did it. You beat your deadline.

Every time you do this, you tell yourself you’re crazy. Next time you’ll be one of those planners, one of those normal people who don’t kill themselves to race a deadline. You know even as you think it that it won’t happen.

Because you won.

That Whole “Balance” Thing

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Here we go again.

I haven’t written anything in a few days. Scratch that, it might be approaching two weeks at this point. Two weeks without fiction or journalling. Two weeks of barely even maintaining my planner. Two weeks may not seem like much, but two whole weeks without creating anything is like drowning. Not only does it feel awful, but with every day that slips by it gets harder and harder to get started again.

It’s not even a block, not really. It’s… an absence. Whole days pass without even the inkling to pick up a pen or to open a text program.

Bizarrely, I’ve been super productive lately in other areas. I’ve been baking up a storm, knitting a very secret Christmas gift, deep cleaning and streamlining the house. But the more I seem to get done in my day-to-day life, the more it seems my career is suffering. It’s completely unacceptable.

I’ve decided that enough is enough. One whole year of my five-year career plan has slipped by, and I’m not where I thought I would be. I’m not where I need to be. But today starts a new month. I’m considering December a practice run before the new year kicks in.

In four years I don’t want to look back and realize I let myself down.

This is it.

(photo by Colin Harris)

BoardZilla

I decided to try the whole planning-a-novel-on-index-cards-thing, so I bought a new cork board to hold them. I already had one in the office, but I decided I needed more space.

Ahem.

The small one is for mere mortals.

I had to move the front seats of the car forward, collapse the back seats, and was barely able to squeeze the trunk shut. The board came from our local Ikea-knockoff, so its size was given in centimeters, and I’m a bad Canadian and suck at metric but I’m thinking it’s at least four and a half feet tall. Maybe five.

I lugged it through the back door. My husband was gaming on the couch in the living room, and when he saw my new monstrosity he just laughed.

“That’s ridiculous! That thing’s HUGE! You could use it as a sled.”

“Shut up.”

“Or hold it over your head for a parachute…or use it to build an addition on the house…”

“SHUT UP.”

“Parasail…area rug…bet it won’t fit up the stairs.”

I rolled my eyes, asked him to kindly shut the fuck up, and went to carry it upstairs. I managed to put a ding in the wall, which made him laugh so hard I thought he’d pee himself.

I love my new cork board. It will be the answer, I know it. I’m guessing this thing’ll hold about 60 index cards, which should get me through just fine (ha!).

I told a coworker about it, and without missing a beat she said, “Flotation device in a flood.”

Shut up.

What I Did This Weekend

I made some satisfying progress my continuing struggle to be an organized person this weekend.

Friday:
– took back library books, early
– finally upgraded my credit card to one with better benefits
– FINALLY changed my name at the bank (after being married a year this past May)
– scheduled another banking appointment to set up some new investments (holy shit! I’m a grownup!)

Saturday:
– bought more storage/organization bins and, y’know, actually used them for their intended purposes
– stocked up on sale pharmacy items AND took advantage of a one-day-only deal for store points

Sunday:
– got up early, bought and assembled a laundry-sorting hamper
– revised my daily to-do’s for this shift
– customized our Quicken program

I feel pretty good about things right now. I didn’t manage to get any writing done, but now that some of these niggling tasks are dealt with I feel like I can get further ahead this week than usual.

Struggling with Time Management

Confession: I have not written nearly as much lately as I should.

I have a four-year fold out calendar in my Filofax meant to track and chart my daily writing output. This should have been a blog post with a photo of how I’ve set that up, but let’s face it: my output lately has been abysmal, and I don’t want you to see it.

I’ve been busy, sure. It feels like I’ve been running from one thing to the next for weeks. Part of it was working the Dreaded Morning Shift, wherein I start work at six and become human around noon. Part of it was crafty little things that (enjoyably) ate up my time. I have new ideas for new stories churning out of my head all the time but…I haven’t actually gotten anywhere with them.

I think I’m stuck, a little, on where I’m taking this series of stories. I knew where I wanted to go when I started, but the author of those plans feels like a different person. I tell myself it will take a lot more time to write a novel-length work. Of course it will. But I’ve been missing that high of publishing a new short every couple of weeks. Instead I’ve passed the honeymoon phase of this bigger project without readying myself for the long-term.

It sucks. It’s a bitch to have so many things pulling at the hem of my skirt and (what seems like) no time to get them all done. If I want to give my BIG PLAN a chance to succeed, I really need to work out a firm schedule for writing. Not just when I feel I’ve got time, because clearly nothing gets done that way.

I’ll be pulling out my well thumbed (but never finished) copy of Getting Things Done tonight. And I’m thinking about using a 24-hour timetable in my planner. Something’s gotta give if this thing is going to go anywhere.

Writers: when do you write?