Sunday, April 29, 2007

Defining Myself as a Writer

I went to my monthly romance writers' meeting this afternoon, which I look forward to with the glee only a thinly-stretched fulltime day job employee who is the part-time caregiver of a 92-year-old grandmother can muster. The craft session today concerned defining oneself as a writer.

We talked about the state of the writing area as a reflection of how important writing is in your life, among many other things. When I got home I mentioned that to my mom, and we both laughed. Loudly. Not only because my writing area needs a massive overhaul, but because her art studio is in the same sort of shape.

Mom is my grandmother's primary caregiver. She's also a watercolor artist. She hasn't done a lot of new work in the last few years, basically since we all moved into this house together. Gram's care takes up a lot of Mom's time and energy. I'm the relief pitcher. My evening and weekend caregiving keeps Mom from going stark raving mad. It keeps Gram from having only one person to look at every day. And it eats significantly into my precious, precious writing time.

But I do put my caregiving on a Priority One basis, so writing gets second-tier status. I've been working at striking that ever-elusive balance so that caregiving and writing are on equal footing. I pass along all of these sort of tips to Mom so she can get back to her painting. Unfortunately I think her creative well is in a bone-dry condition.

In the meantime, let's look at my writing area to see what priority I've given to writing. I'm currently sitting at my desk which is temporarily situated in the living room. My office is filled with storage. What does that say?!?

My desk is missing three drawers, which are piled at the bottom of my closet. I haven't had a chance to sort through the drawers in two years. I have stuff occupying the space where the drawers should be, however. Mainly my family history stuff and critique session stuff.

There's a printer on the right side of my monitor. The monitor was passed along to me from one of my critique partners, and the printer was passed along to me by my almost-brother-in-law. The tower is a twice-passed-along refugee that processes too slowly to download the driver I need to connect the printer. Normally this would say I don't give writing too high a priority because I don't have the tools I need. However, finances do play a role in those decisions and I would say that my recent addition of an internet connection to my monthly expenses shows my very high commitment to writing.

There's a small pile of DVDs beside the tower. Not too topply. The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny is in front of the tower, to the left of my keyboard. I love that series and I love looking at the cover illustration of Amber.

The Moe's Tavern Simpson's alarm clock is in front of the printer, to the right of my keyboard. I need that so my guardian spirit can press the Duffman button from time to time when he/she visits.

There's a small (very small) pile of paperbacks and CDs on top of the tower. Piles of paperbacks can get very tall in our apartment. There's a page from the travel section of the newspaper showing discount fares to Toronto on the printer. A card sent in memorium to my dad from my best friend, from her donation to the palliative care unit, stands next to a roll of toilet paper that I was using as kleenex. Two boxes of floppy discs, earphones, a can of club soda, a can of Fruitopia and a Batman mousepad round out the residents of my writing environment.

As long as the monitor is the tallest object on the desk, I'm happy with that.


Christine said...

Since my husband set up my desk in the office a few months ago, I do find myself actually sitting there doing some writing. But my best writing seems to happen when I am sitting on the couch alone in the dark.

I'm not sure what kind of writer that makes me...

Dara Edmondson said...

I try to keep my writing area as uncluttered as possible - no easy task. I have reference books nearby to make me feel more professional;-) Thank God for the Internet - if I had to store all sorts of resources I use online in hard copy, there wouldn't be a square inch free of clutter!

Kelly said...

I start to hyperventilate if my writing space gets messy. This morning, I was pressed for time and didn't clear off the desk mess that accumulated over the weekend (how I don't know because I wasn't even on the computer!). It irritated me. Luckily, my heroine was irritated with my hero so I think it translated okay.

Annie Mac said...

I'm not the neatest person and my desk reflects that. I get so busy and involved with other things I really don't even see it. My neat freak daughter likes to point it out though. Have I told you she's like living with my mother all over again?

La Espia T. said...

My entire house is normally in the state of your office. Worse actually. However, as my mother would say, "There is a method to the madness" and I can always find what I need. What I can NOT do is stay calm after my roomate has "helpfully" cleaned everything and I can't find a darn thing for my classes or anything else for that matter. It's MY mess!

No touchie!