The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Tidying up...

I am attempting to tidy my study.

Considering it’s only about 6 foot wide and 9 foot long and I’m not even thinking about sorting out the bookcases, you might imagine it should be a fairly straightforward task. But it isn’t.

Unlike Mary who instinctively understands the idea of a place for everything and everything in its place, my filing system is chronological: piles of paper and books everywhere, with the last thing I looked at probably on top of one of the nearer heaps.

Pondering Chair, from IkeaStuff that really has to be dealt with gets put on my Pondering Chair – a comfy, swivel chair away from the computer where I can sit, muse, strum my mandolin, occasionally fall asleep and, of course, ponder. Eventually the chair becomes too covered for anyone to even perch on the edge, so the pile gets moved to any available bit of floor space, with the full intention of dealing with it as soon as I have a moment. But then a new pile slowly builds up in the now vacant space until, at some point, it too will be moved to the floor or, in extreme situations, balanced precariously on top of another pile.

Having reached absolute saturation point, about 6 months ago, I have decided to attempt to work my way through the room and discard anything unneeded or irrelevant.

So far I have found Christmas letters from friends, not even the most recent Christmas I have to confess; CDs of music people have thought I might find interesting; magazines open at an article I read once with the aim of investigating further; a few stray old photos I’d meant to scan and clean up; a £10 book voucher in a card marked “Happy 40th Birthday”; and hundreds and hundreds of scraps of paper, backs of envelopes and bits of notebooks covered in ideas.

Some of these ideas are no more that a couple of words hinting at a bigger thought I didn’t want to forget and planned on expanding. Some are lines of conversation I thought could be slotted into something larger. Some are even quite developed ideas consisting of both sides of the envelope with squiggly arrows running to tiny print squeezed into gaps between the main text. A great many are completely illegible as my handwriting is appalling.

Let me pluck a few random ones to give you a taster…

The 200th Wedding Anniversary

“Have you got Moby Dick?”
“No, it’s just the way I walk.”

A Special Branch operative, a tabloid journalist, a BBC investigator and the Features Editor of a woman’s weekly magazine make up a terrorist cell. Each believes they have successfully infiltrated a fanatical organisation and are busy making notes on all the others, but have no idea there isn’t a genuine terrorist between them.

Would the Anti-Christ have as many doubts as the Christ? Could you have a reluctant messiah and a reluctant anti-messiah?

Showing Times for “Sin City” at the Odeon in Glasgow on Tuesday: 12.15pm, 15.15pm, 17.30pm… oh, hold on, I think I can scrap this one.

So what do I do with all these scribbles? The obvious thing is to file them, or at least put them in a folder, which is what will probably end up happening. But I know once they are tucked away out of sight, they will be forgotten about and never looked at again.

How do I know this? Because I’ve just found another folder containing hundreds of scraps of paper, backs of envelopes and bits of notebooks covered in ideas.

Some people complain about lack of ideas and writer’s block. For me the problem has always been option overload and getting round to actually doing anything with them.


gimme a minute said...

Both the terrorist cell and the reluctant anti-christ are wonderful ideas. I think you're right though, someone else has already done the cinema listings one. Leon Uris, I think it was.

But you should use the first two, quickly, before I steal them.

Anonymous said...

It's all very simple. Add the new ones to the folder. Put the folder near the computer - perhaps a vertical file folder holder - then you can reach in and randomly grab an "idea" every day. The "idea" will invariably relate to something going on in your life/head at that moment. Yes it will, I'm sure of it. Just like a horoscope - you can make it fit. Anyway, then you have an "idea" for a story/anecdote/blog for the day or ever perhaps an idea for something over at Blunt will be so productive online you won't have to time to worry about how unproductive you might be in real life ;)


Carole said...

If you had my mind, I would tell you to put them all in a folder. Keep it at the ready. But since you have your mind and the ideas are never ending, I would say put everything, including the old folder in a big bonfire, roast some marshmellows over the flame and start over with a pristine environment.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

I can be the same. Too many ideas to know what to do with, so none of them eventuate. Other times I can have writers block. Most of the time, though, I just post things when I think of them.

Kanani said...

Oh, I have those scribblings too, though most of mine are in a Moleskine book. There are also piles of paper, books upon books, even a nail file and nail varnish can be found on the shelves!

The Birdwatcher said...

Mrs BW and I have different ideas about filing. She is organised and gets frustrated when say she is trying to sort out the mortgage and consults the mortgage file (hers) finds that I have been operating a shadow one which usually contains the vital bit of paper thats she been searching for. "But you know this is where I file all the mortgage papers.."

If the christ and the anti christ met would they both disappear in a puff of smoke?

Sayre said...

I love the reluctant anti-christ. You should run with that one!

I am in the throes of a big organization/cleanup at my house. We only moved in a year ago, but at that time, things were tossed into the house here and there (my husband does not know the meaning of organization) and I'm trying to make sense of some of the chaos.

I started a organizing challenge on my main blog called "MY LIFE IS A MESS" and it really is getting me to get things done. I pick one thing to tackle each week - but I find that I actually get even more things done. Mindset, I think.

Namaste said...


savannah said...

sugar, when you figure it all out, drop me a line on how to organize the disorganized mind. xoxox

~ Teresa ~ said...

Organization isn't all that important as long as you know where things are right? Well, I hear you about the tidying up... I am so super organized at work and at home in my area, I have fallen apart... It is hard to sleep for the distrations...

Mary Witzl said...

Wow, you gave me a plug! Thank you! I'm just grateful you can't see this room right now and all of the piles in it, (few of which are of my making, but still. The shame!)

My advice is to gather all those great ideas into a pile -- old envelopes, pieces of paper, notebooks and all -- and write each one into a separate blog draft entry of one line. When you go back to write another post, you have a whole slew of things to choose from. I've got a mess of things like this in draft, and this system works fine for me. (I've also got a notebook like Kanani, but when I go back to look at my entries, I can't read them half the time.)

I look forward to that anti-Christ post...

Stella said...

Your study sounds like my entire house Kim.

Kim Ayres said...

Gimme - go for it - I have hundreds more. However, if you create a best seller, be sure to credit me with 2%

Mia - welcome to my ramblings. There's too much truth in what you say for me to take in all in one go :)

Carole - or maybe I should set up an online business called needanidea?.com... hmmm, that's not a bad idea - I'll just go and scribble it on a bit of scrap paper...

FLG - always have a notebook at the side of you when you have a coffee, is my advice. Especially espresso.

Kanani - I like the idea of a moleskin book - there's a sense of treating the ideas with a bit more care and respect, like they are valuable.

Birdwatcher - I live in fear of the day I bump into the anti-Kim...

Sayre - sounds like a good motivational idea. I'll think more about it after my next nap

Namaste - cute ;)

Savannah - Oh I could probably tell you how to organise a disorganised mind, the big problem is following it through

Teresa- welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment. Sounds like you feel a deep need to control some aspects of your life as other's feel so out of your control. Hope you find a balance.

Mary - now you know why I keep telling you I cannot be judgemental about someone else's workspace until they've seen mine.

The reluctant anti-christ seems the most popular idea here - maybe we should have a story competition - limit it to 200 words or something for anyone that's interested.

Or maybe I should have a nap.

Stella - the rest of the house would end up just like my study if I was left in charge of it

savannah said...

that's a start, sugar..then i could pin the list to my corkboard and refer to it...or in my file of how-to get organized...or my planner which is so up to date for 2007 *sigh*

good luck, she says as she looks around at her recycling center, i mean, office. . . ;-)

(btw, i agree, the terrorist cell is really good idea!)

Julie said...

My husband has what he refers to as an "Idea Jar". He has a stack of blank recipe cards on his desk and beside the bed. Whenever an idea strikes, he jots it down. Eventually, it ends up in a recipe box. He used to use moleskin books, but had to remember when he wrote it down (and in which one since he usually had three going simultaneously). With the recipe box, he could organize them into story, invention, etc. He hasn't complained about it yet and it's been a year.

Canadian Girl said...

Your workspace sounds like mine. My problem is that I'm not inherently messy but the other five people in my house are. I make my share of the paper piles, but I'm the only one who ever puts them away (or even makes the attempt). I can't keep up.

Kim Ayres said...

Savannah - ok, the terrorist cell story is yours, but like Gimme above, I want 2% and an acknowledgement if you get anywhere with it :)

Julie - I can see the benefit of the recipe cards, athough I can imagine mine remaining scattered throught the house, coat pockets, draw and the car

Canadian Girl - If you've not read Mary's post I linked to, you should- I'm sure you would sympathise

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