16 July 2012

Clutter vs. Chaos: Finding the "Write" Balance, Part I

Without atmosphere a painting is nothing.
~ Rembrandt


T
he same can be said for writers.  Or at least for this writer.   Oh, I’ve written, scribbled, jotted, agonized over many a dangling participle on trains, in planes, park benches, grassy knolls, empty rooms, and trash-filled dorms.

With ball points, fountain pens, pencils, even markers.  Scrap paper, napkins, restaurant receipts, backs of envelopes, ruled notebooks, leather journals, and thick parchment style paper. I have even been known to use a computer once in a while.

But I simply cannot write, I mean, physically write, while surrounded by chaos.


Now where did I put that piece of paper?

Chaos is different from clutter.  A space can be cluttered yet orderly.  The desk in my home office is cluttered with crystal glasses filled with pens ~ one for each colour, as well as jars for scissors, exacto knives, letter openers and the like.  There is a decorative box filled with fountain pens, and another one with stamps and return address labels.  Not to mention the keyboard, mouse, and monitor for my desktop (I know, how archaic!), and a stack of letters waiting to be stamped “Answered On_____” and then filed away.  And to top it all off, a little fan (no air conditioning unit in there.  Whew.)

That is clutter.  It is not pristine, sleek, empty.  But it works.  It is still ordered.

The rest of my home office, however, is. . . well, let’s just say it looks like a derecho whipped through it.  Stacks of 12x12 paper, sheets of stickers, and books of card stock (I make cards for friends) rest precariously on the floor next to my desk and on top of the bed, boxes and bags of books sit next leaning towers of books.  Because as with most home offices, mine serves three functions: home office, guest room, and library.  And as with most writers, that last is an ever hungry monster.  I always buy more books before I’ve even finished reading the ones I just bought two weeks ago.

Can I write in such an atmosphere? 

Of course.

Do I want to write in such an atmosphere?

No.

You are shocked ~ I can sense your vibe from here. (I told you last week I was iNtuitive!)  Ah yes, creatives are stereotyped as being clutterbugs who either love their mess or don’t even notice it.  (ok, fine ~ that last is actually true most of the time.  I am as far from OCD as one can possibly get without calling a health inspector.)

I’m also very dramatic and am always exaggerating.

Most creatives live the majority of their life in their imagaination.  That's where all the real work begins, after all.  BUt if it's going to change anyone's life or touch their heart, it has to live Nevernever land and come to roost on the printed page.  And when one can't find just the right sticker, or that specific piece of scrapbook paper, or mysteriously disappearing tape runners, or the notebook filed with handwritten story ideas and quotes, well, there comes a point in every creative life when something must be done.  And I, dear readers, have reached that point. 

Either I go, or the couch goes.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Tune in next week to find out more!  Meanwhile, what about you?  Does atmosphere help or hurt your creativity?  What does your creative space look like?  Post links to your pics in the comments!

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