So I’ve finished the marking and the copyediting and the translating and the accounting and most of the extension planning (take that, grout colours!) and some of the other random bits and pieces that were clamouring for my fickle attentions. And I’ve cleaned my desk. Not completely, but the thing is, despite my many friends who emailed me to say “Call that a mess? This is a mess!” it was never really about the mess anyway. It was about the fact that there were just too many different things in there, too many disconnected and sometimes competing demands on my time and increasingly limited brainpower. I can take the mess, as long as it’s not pulling me in too many directions at once.
But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is this:
In partially cleaning my desk, I found the leaf – whole and flat and entirely unbroken despite the chaos of its surrounds. That has to be a symbol of something, surely?
It’s the return of the writing desk and it’s just in time for the school holidays, of course, but that’s okay. It seems to be how things work around here, but when there are novels brewing, they will make their way into the light, school holidays or no.
There is other news on the horizon too, which is the current source of both excitement and blind panic. But I can’t tell you about that, not quite yet.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? This one, sadly, is worth very few, at least not the kind of words I’d like to be generating. Incredibly, the photo has the effect, at least to me, of making the desk appear less chaotic than it is in real life. The piles look smaller some how, and less likely to topple and swamp all in their path.
If you knew what you were looking at here, you would be able to recognise:
* Pile #1: the marking pile from hell. This pile has curious magic pudding-like qualities, something I would applaud in any other context
* the slanty writing board which makes working my way through Pile #1 marginally less painful (at least physically).
* Pile #2: the copyediting job from hell, “almost finished” for about five weeks now.
* a Japanese-English dictionary I’m using in some ongoing translation work (from 地獄). There should be a pile for this job, too, and its absence is worrying…
Writing is not on the menu for me at the moment. With teaching and marking and copyediting and any number of other little jobs all demanding attention nownownow, I don’t have the time or the headspace that writing requires. I can potter on smaller projects, like picture books, but it’s busy work mostly; it’s tiny gestures towards writing so I can tell myself it’s okay, that I’m still doing it – look, see? But the truth is that I can’t really make any creative progress until I move the other piles, and to some extent, myself, out of the way.
So in the meantime, I’m reading. All sorts of things. Here’s a snapshot from the last few weeks:
It’s kind of all over the place, really, but I guess in some ways it’s a snapshot of me. There are kids’ books in there partly because I write for kids and partly because I have a new nephew and partly because I like to keep up with what my daughter is reading. There’s poetry in there because I am, or have been, a poet, and somewhere in the midst of all the skateboards and the exploding hoses and the difficult, demanding ducks, that side of me has slipped quietly away. And I need to have it back. The adult books are mostly recommendations from friends – thanks to Julia Lawrinson for The Vintner’s Luck, which I finally got around to after only five years. And Art & Fear is there because, well, you know.