In that vein, I decided to post some photos of my own office. My home office, tucked away in the basement where pretty much no one but me dares venture. My work office is public enough for me to keep on display, but not the home office. I was tempted to clean and stage the room, as I imagine at least some of the writers in Krementz’s book did. But in the spirit of honesty and full disclosure I decided to photograph it as-is.
This is my office at its full productive state; this was its condition on the day that I finished my semester grades, which is when I’m the busiest. (Since I’m teaching only online this summer, I’ve taken to working at home.)
Here ye be:
When I was a kid, my mom tried to motivate me to clean my room with money. I had a $10 a week allowance, and she took deductions a dime at a time if we talked back or didn’t do something she asked. My younger brother was on the same plan, but a $5/nickel rate. Part of this system was daily room inspections. After we got home from school, there would be a report card on our desks listing the infractions and deductions. Yes, my mother was nickel and diming us.
However, after awhile, I found it was easier just to go out and get a job as a paper boy rather than try to keep my room clean. My brother, on the other hand, is a perfectionist and often got extra money for his extra-good housekeeping.
Probably my office today would wipe out the entire roll of dimes in one day.
Here’s a second view:
Have I mentioned that I have a little reading habit?
So, what do I see when I look here? First, I like Post-it notes. Bright colors, the super sticky kind, written on with a Sharpie. In the first photo are some 4×4 sheets of plywood that were supposed to be kitchen trim that I decided to put up on the wall (the notes don’t stick to the cinder block wall too well). That act started the room’s devolution; you can see the corner of my lovely Frank Lloyd Wright print sticking out behind one of the sheets of plywood.
The white table in the foreground was supposed to be “temporary” when I put it there last June. I needed to sort through weeks of mail and filing and needed more desktop space. When the Tour de France started, I stuck a TV on there so I could watch while I work. The Tour was over last month, and there sits the telly. On the table.
I’m also struck by how orderly my post-its look on the board. I like to see everything when I work. I like piles, but not disorder. For example, this:
would drive me crazy, but this:
looks completely awesome to me.
What else is in my office? I have several guitars, which I have touched exactly twice since the novelty of my “blues experiment” wore off. In the corner that I didn’t photograph is a work bench and a small portion of my tools, along with a sink and some countertop from the bathroom remodel I insisted I would finish within a week last June and haven’t done any work on since.
But even though it seems cluttered, my office is not disorganized. The stacks of books are usually on related topics. There’s a teaching pile, and a writing pile, and a I-started-rereading-but-got-bored-and-haven’t-put-away-yet pile. My various manuscripts in various stages of unfinshedness are in a box. When the piles start to overlap, that seems disorganized to me.