Welcome to my lair.
It's a place of organized chaos similar to what goes on incessantly in my head. There are corners, crevices and hideaways for everything, rarely discernable by the human eye. In fact, my husband, with his businessman's sense of order, frequently sneaks in and tries to rearrange my stacks of stuff. He thinks I don't notice.
I always do.
Check out my computers. As the daughter of an engineer, I've always been a computer geek. My friends like to call me a techie but I use computers rather than build them. My computers are very sensitive critters. My newest one on the left likes to bully my aging guy (the taller one with the laptop docking station on the right). Ah, youth. It's a clear case of sibling rivalry. Like all parents, I'm the one to lose in the competition - a crash, a freeze or an ultimate refusal to back up. When things get really dicey I call in my Law Enforcement Techie, Howie, to save the day. He arrives remotely and like an unsmiling cop on the beat, gets everyone to behave.
My nondescript one-terabyte device, sounding more like a green activist than a back-up system, makes sure all the essentials are secured beyond the grasp of bickering sibling chips.
To make my computers purr, I run a slide show of "good times" on my desktop - right now I have about fifty photos that are multiplying daily. The problem is that I have to pause each time a new photo appears. Remember that day? Wasn't it great? That was the best trip of my life! Not helpful when I'm in the middle of stalking a new character.
In the bookcase over my elderly computer is the "library" for my latest historical novel, Trees Cry For Rain. It includes things like books - old, new and antiquarian - a gold enamel plate from Spain (a copy of a 15th century design), a bronze "Fiddler on the Roof" (a gift from my dear friend Bill) and a large Lucite container that holds chocolate wrapper remains from my Gourmand Research. All my novels have chocolate as a character so I'm forced to conduct Gourmand Research a.k.a. tasting exotic brands, flavors and different combinations of that heavenly foodstuff. When the chocolate is gone, I save the wrappers to remember the names. How many people have feasted on Pralus Sȃo Tome, íCru purea di arancia and Vosges Bacon & Chocolate? How delectable! I might not be able to pronounce the names but I can truly taste the difference. You'll never catch this author with Nestle's Crunch.
I also have stacks of papers, articles, DVDs, and other stuff to enhance my non-Gourmand research. The books standing up on the desk (beneath a few relevant articles) are the growing library for my new historical novel that begins in 17th century New York City. To the left of my Trees library is an assortment of materials for my kid's books - posters, photos and artwork. Below them is a collection of my nineteen published books that I constantly use for reference. It's so much fun to quote yourself! What you can't see in the photo are the full-length bookshelves on the wall opposite my desks that hold, among other volumes, the library for my newly-completed thriller, Jakob: A Perfect Psychological Storm.
Since this is Virtual Book Tour time, my "clean" desk is filled with mailers, reference books, manuscripts, important books and endless piles of lists that multiply by the minute. I love my lists but they're like the words of Lewis Carroll:
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand
The beach was white from side to side
But much too full of sand.
"Mr. Walrus," said the Carpenter,
"My brain begins to perk.
We'll sweep this clear in half a year
If you don't mind the work."
I doubt I will ever "clear" my lists like The Walrus or The Carpenter. I don't expect to surface from beneath my sea of colorful Post-It notes either. Fortunately, the real writing takes place in my head which happily can't be photographed. Can you imagine the jumble there? Even my husband couldn't sneak in and try to organize it.
Originally appeared in Feeling a Draft