Friday, April 3, 2015

The messy art of life



Year of Living Authentically #3: What a writers life really looks like.

After last months post, I got a few comments about how self-aware I was and how put together I appeared. And I laughed. I, like my current manuscript, am a work in progress. I just happen to know where my plot lags and what my filler phrases are.

I like to look at what other writers' spaces look like, where they do their creating. Marissa Meyer talked about the 10 Things that Lived on her desk. With nice neat pictures, she told of the ten things that she needs to write, that help her get her juices flowing.

It was beautiful and I think wistfully for that kind of space. So, to face my fears and let you guys know what one writer's life really looks like, I thought I would show you where I write when I'm at home. My mother is going to kill me, but I wanted you guys to know the truth.

I do have an office with a lovely desk that I picked up on craig'slist with all these neat ideas about refurbishing it to make my office into some gothic red and black den of magic and creativity.  This is what it actually looks like, including a brief cameo by the Bean because she likes Mommy's office supplies too.

I did manage to paint a wall red and get a bookshelf of all my writing books in one place in the house, until my collection over flowed and now the rest of the pile is on my nightstand by my bed.

This is wear I actually end up writing when I'm at home, the kitchen table. Tonight, it is still cluttered from a weekend away, mail, and cookbooks from the grocery trip we just went on. But now that the Bean has gone to bed, Mommy gets to unpack what she needs to be creative: notes, a computer, a hot beverage (tonight it is honey chamomile), and some books on story structure. And my current book-o-the-moment- Blood Rites by Jim Butcher.

I'm sure that the above pictures might make some of you itch. And yes, some days I will actively use decluttering to avoid writing when my characters aren't talking to me, or I'm just about to do something horrible to them. But most nights, I just recycle what I can, put away what can be within four feet, and get on with the writing. Clutter has never killed anyone. Yet.

I believe in the notion that a first draft of a novel is figuring out what you are trying to say, and the second draft is figuring out how to say it. The first pass is heart, the second pass is head. The same is true for life. Your mess helps define what you find important and what isn't. You collect things that are important to you, and your second pass, your spring cleaning, is when you get to appreciate what happened or learn from what didn't happen.  My clutter is cookbooks because I love to cook for my family. We still haven't fully unpacked from our annual family trip to San Antonio. And there is a box of books that I need to put on a bookshelf that I haven't had time to buy yet because I love stories. Life is in this clutter.

Life is messy. Life is layers of things that can stack up next to you and make you feel small. My life has become a daily juggling act of art and motherhood and work and marriage. Some things are going to get dropped from day to day. But maybe they slide off to the pile until a moment when you can pick them up and have time to appreciate them again.

Authenticity test: When you are doing your spring cleaning, take time to think about the mess. Appreciate the mess. Let it tell you a story that you can love or learn from. And SNAP, the job's a game!

Until next time, LIVE AUTHENTICALLY!

Amanda Arista


Terri Garey said...

Very timely post, Amanda! I got new carpet this week, which meant I had to empty my office, including my large corner desk (complete with hutch). It took me two full days to sort through the stacks of files, folders, books, clippings, inspirational quotes and other writing-related knick-knacks I've accumulated over the last 10 years. Wish I'd taken "before and after" pictures!

Helen Lowe said...

Hey Amanda, I have heard a theory that clutter and creativity are in fact related (the corollary of 'empty desk, empty mind', I guess ;-)) Be that as it may, I too live in the eternal clutter of the creative mind -- & am a kitchen table writer. :)