The Messes

I meant to start cleaning up the messes on June 1st, but I was too sick. And then I was sick all week.

By the messes, I don’t just mean the physical messes, although there are those. Would you like to see? The mess beside the shelves:

The mess on top of the shelves:

The mess on top of the other shelves:

The mess on the desk:

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I can’t stand messes. So today, I started cleaning them up. That’s what I’m going to be doing this summer, cleaning up the various messes in my life. The physical ones will be the easiest. I started today by making lists of the things I need to get done, the dates by which I need to get them done. Here’s what the summer looks like:


Make final revisions to dissertation, draft introduction.
Prepare for and teach Odyssey Writing Workshop.
Write Folkroots column on the myth and magic of Narnia.
Write first third of the YA novel.


Revise dissertation introduction, draft abstract.
Prepare for and attend Readercon.
Write second third of the YA novel.


Dissertation will go to committee.
Write Folkroots column on – I’m thinking werewolves or unicorns?
Write third third of the YA novel.

That’s the general list. I also have a list of specific things I need to do now, sending in an invoice, doing an interview, that sort of thing. And I have some short stories I’ve promised to people. I have to go look at the deadlines – I know they’re distant, but I should get started on some of the stories, or at least start thinking about them.

Of these things, the dissertation takes first priority, and the YA novel last. That’s the one thing I’m doing purely for my own sanity, to keep myself from feeling as though I’m not doing anything at all for myself. I can’t take a vacation this summer, I simply don’t have the time, so roaming around London with Mary and Diana (they haven’t met the other girls yet because I’ve only written two chapters) will be my vacation.

There is a sense in which, this summer, I will be working rather than living. But that’s the price for cleaning up the various messes in my life. It’s the price for getting to the fall and starting fresh. (Remember that messy bookshelf? Someday in the not-too-distant future, all those books will go back to the university library.)

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed, sometimes I’m not sure I can do it all. But I have friends who are usually reliable telling me I can, and why should I distrust them about this one thing? And I’ve already accomplished so much this year, I’m already in such a different place than I was last August. I’m already almost at the end of the road, and while I’m not sure where it leads, I think it will be somewhere exciting. Somewhere I can create the life I want for myself.

I don’t want to leave you with images of messes, so I’ll leave you with something that is not a mess, but a rather nice order. It’s the top of my dresser:

In front of my mirror, I have a silver tray on which I have set my frog pottery bowl filled with acorns, a candle on a silver ashtray, a piece of driftwood with some shells, and my rock with BELIEVE carved on it. It’s an image of order and natural beauty. And it inspires me.

As do all of you, writing about your own lives and the issues you’re dealing with. If you’re a writer, an artist, a creative type, those issues will always be there. And we have to deal with them as best we can. We will all find our own tools. I believe in making lists; in creating pleasant environments for yourself so you can pay attention to the messes more effectively; in finding inspiration where you can, even if it’s a rock. And remembering that you’re not alone. We’re all in this together, cleaning up the messes, creating the lives we want for ourselves.

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2 Responses to The Messes

  1. Evelyn says:

    Delurking now…

    I always find your blog posts inspiring, but that last paragraph really hits a chord. Sometimes there’s so much other “stuff” in the way that it’s difficult to get to what I actually want to do (i.e. write). It’s helpful to remember why I’m dealing with the et cetera in the first place. 🙂

  2. Maery Rose says:

    I agree with Evelyn, the last paragraph hits a chord. Sometime I get too caught up in trying to organize everything, to make it perfect, to have everything – I mean everything – done so I can finally concentrate on my writing. But it’s never ALL done. So more often, when I get caught up with cleaning every nook and cranny of my house, I remind myself, you know, you have another chance to clean next week. This is good enough for now. Go write. Go live.

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