Thursday, February 9, 2012

Project Archeology (or Holy Crap. It sure does accumulate.)

I have three desks. One is just a table that I intended to use as a "let's spread this artwork out" sort of table. It degenerated into a sort of dump zone. Then there are the two desks that I created one wraparound style of desk with. On one desk I stationed a sort of cubbyhole bookcase with about 15 different cubbyholes. It was a perfect setup for when we were doing about 5 books a season - one cubbyhole for each book over 2 seasons and a few for other things. But now that we've started doing 10 books a season, this system just isn't working for me anymore. So many of the things I ought to have been filing have just sort of spreeeaaaaddd out over the rest of the desk surfaces. You know how it goes. I've decided that maybe it's time to invest in an actual filing cabinet. With files and labels and hanging thingies and everything. Sigh. Luxury.

Over the past few days, I have done (or should I say begun) the first major clean-up of my office since I moved into it almost three years ago. When I moved in, it was already full of stuff from its previous inhabitants, and I didn't have a whole lot of time or guidance when it came to sorting out what I really needed to keep and what I didn't. So, I figured I'd err on the side of caution and keep most of it. Turns out, I probably could have turfed most of it years ago. But today was kind of cool to see the early days of projects that are now long finished. The problem is, I just sort of kept adding to the piles.

So what sort of stuff did I unearth? Well, mostly mundane paraphernalia. On my desk alone, I found about a hundred pens, for starters. And plastic cutlery, lip balm, bookmarks, a little plastic character out of a Kinder egg, dozens of postcards from illustrators that I liked, and money. (That was nice.) Business cards for people who haven't worked here in a looong time (unsettling). And, of course, the odd manuscript. Oh dear me. Guilt, Guilt, Guilt.

What's an archeological dig without a dino find?
To be fair, some were manuscripts that I had rejected a long time ago but held onto because I really did like them and thought maaayybe I'd try to resurrect them again somewhere down the road. One was a manuscript that ended up finding a home elsewhere, to my delight. I felt like saying to it, "Don't worry, little fella. Everything is going to be just fine. You are going to grow up and be a really good book one day. I've seen your future!"

I found some ghosts of ideas that just never got off the ground. These I'd mostly send to the recycling with a sigh. Some I kept, though.

One of the coolest finds was a daytimer with all sorts of cute animal photos in it that belonged to a former boss of mine. It was from 2007 and never used. On a whim I checked the dates and noticed that what would have been today's date was only one weekday off from the same date in 2007. Then it occurred to me: this is a leap year. So I checked March 1st - and sure enough, it falls on a Thursday! So, next month, I've got me a brand new daytimer.

Two boxes of recycling later, I can't say the room looks that much better. (I'm wishing I'd taken a "before" picture now just to prove that is actually IS better.) My intern still stands in the middle of my office saying, "You have no idea how much this mess hurts me. Just throw it all out. Do you really need that standee of Scaredy Squirrel?" (Answer: YES!!) But it's better.

Now that I've "edited out" the unnecessary stuff from my workspace, I'm super energized and ready to tackle a whole bunch of actual ms edits -- without the threat of towers of papers ready to topple over and crush me. This alone does wonders for my anxiety levels. And if it's YOUR ms I'm editing, you should be very, very happy.

(But beware. I'm in a purging kind of mood...)

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