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Following on from last week’s post on tidying my desk, I just wanted to share a quotation from Eric Maisel’s book, Fearless Creating: ‘If we are not working on a project, life is that much safer (and that much deader). No messy paints, no messy pages of notes, no messy confusion. This is the choice that would be artists make (and seasoned artists some of the time), to avoid the chaos of working and gain perfect safety …
Although tidying my desk wasn’t done to avoid writing, it did coincide with a necessary moment of reflection. I needed to assess where I was up to with my novel and I also needed to get a sense of how far there was to go. Clearing away the clutter has hopefully allowed me to re-focus and I do feel that I am inching slowly towards the conclusion. In fact, yesterday I allowed myself to reread a few pages from the start of the book which I’ve only done once since starting the project. Yes, there are mistakes and inconsistencies, but the characters are full of life and I still find them engaging (I was worried that when I reread the opening I would want to change so much of it that a complete rewrite would be in order). This isn’t to say that there’s no editing ahead – there is, and it will take a while. And I have to remember that I haven’t actually finished the first draft yet, so there’s still a lot to do.
I’ve included the picture (above) just to prove that I still work in chaos at times, although interestingly I was working on a poem when I took this photo. It’s taken at the kitchen table, which is where I do most of my actual writing/ creating. If you’re interested in other people’s desks, check out Josephine Corcoran’s ‘Notes from a cluttered desk‘ and Robin Houghton’s ‘And from this cluttered desk‘. I find other people’s working practice endlessly fascinating so I really enjoyed these posts. Of course, it will come as no surprise to you that my desk upstairs, the one I tidied in order to help me gain some sort of control over my novel, is already starting to get cluttered again. Maisel has a point, ‘chaos’ is part of the work. Without it, nothing is created.

Maisel, E., Fearless Creating (Tarcher Putnam, 1995)


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