I’ve decided to give up on my desk.  I’ve rearranged it, organized it, tidied it dozens of times, but by the end of my every writing session, it looks the same way, disastrous.

This is odd for me.  I’m a fanatically organized person.  If there was such a thing called “Organizer’s Anonymous” I would probably be a member.

I love going into stores like Office Max and browsing all the organizational supplies.  It’s like how some women feel walking into Nordstrom’s shoe department.  My heart races, I pick up colorful packets of sticky notes or cool expandable files and think about how I can put them to good use, like some other women pick up a pair of shoes and dream of all the outfits they would complete.

In either case, it’s probably some sort of unhealthy obsessive behavior, but one which my writing space seems to be making a stab at healing in me.  Despite repeated tidying sessions and a vow to keep it clean, it just doesn’t.  Almost like it can’t.

I spent 20 minutes the other day scouring the house for my iPod earbuds, so I could listen to music, write, and tune out “Pretty Little Liars,” my daughter’s current favorite TV show.  I searched my bedroom, both my kids’ rooms, the family room, everywhere I could possibly think.  I finally borrowed my daughter’s pair, only to sit down and see a little piece of white wire underneath a precarious stack on my desk.

Several books, a binder, a three-hole puncher, a journal, sticky note pads, a basket of pens, and piles of loose paper balanced atop my long lost earbuds which had been there the entire time.  Thankfully, they hadn’t been completely digested or seasoned with the half cup of coffee I had spilled earlier on the other side of the desk.  I could still use them.

My desk seems to have a mind of its own, almost like one of my characters that I think should be responding to a situation in one way but who insists on responding in their way, thank you very much.  I argue with them, but they usually win.  If I insist on doing things my way, I get stuck.  Sometimes, it’s just easier relent, let them have their way, just like sometimes it’s easier to give in to the arguing two-year-old (or sixteen-year-old).   So, I’m giving in . . . to my desk.

Writing desk, this is for you:  “You can stay a mess.  You can inspire me in your disastrous, paper-laden state.  I will not spend time organizing, tidying, or pondering why you like it this way.  I give up.  I trust you.  I am learning the lesson that maybe I just write better in a messy space.  Thank you for your patience with me, and please, keep the inspiration coming.”

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  1. Anthony Spotts on September 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I always tell people that I have a “system” when they stare in slack-jawed horror at the piles upon piles of stuff strewn across my desk.

    I know where everything is. The fact that no one else would is of no concern to me.

    • Amy Isaman on September 5, 2011 at 3:20 am

      Good point! My problem is that now I look at my own desk in “slack-jawed horror” – not a good feeling, but I’m not fighting it anymore.

  2. Danny Sparrow on September 4, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I’m taking a poetry class right now that requires us to go on a writing “diet”. Every day, we must put ourselves in an environment that we don’t normally write in. But it has to be consistent. So every morning, I’m getting a latte and driving to the park to write. Maybe you’ve done this subconciously?

    • Amy Isaman on September 5, 2011 at 3:21 am

      That’s so interesting, and I think its a great idea. This summer I went up to the Ruby Dome trail head to write and I felt inspired there. I decided at that point that I should go there at least weekly to write, but I never managed to get back. I think I’ll try to this week though. Has writing in the park helped you get out of your comfort zone? What are you writing?

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