I’ve rearranged the furniture in my office this week. The mood takes me every so often to face my desk in another direction. It’s usually with the idea that I can create more workspace, as if furniture were like words, capable of becoming expansive or concise according to their surroundings.
The illusion is heightened, no doubt, because the process naturally involves some sorting and even ditching of the detritus that I accumulate. I’ve even been known to empty the wastepaper basket, which is normally treated as a rough backup filing system. I won’t admit here how often I’ve resorted to sorting through the contents for old notes that I’ve had second thoughts on, though.
I’ve been in offices where the waste-basket is emptied with awful regularity. They look super-efficient, but whenever I’ve tried to emulate this effect over-enthusiasm has resulted in the loss of some valuable and unrepeatable ideas or phrases. Hence the occasional sight of me up-ended in the wheelie bin, throwing out cans and bottles as I sift through the recycling. Of course, if I do find what I’m looking for it won’t turn out to be the wise gem I thought it was, but at least I’m no longer haunted by it. However, the usual scenario is that I start to think about those notes at least a day after the recycling lorry came, and even I draw the line at going to the depot and sifting through a district sized heap of waste papers.
I can’t get a bigger rubbish bin for the office, there’s not enough room left, despite my new arrangement. So I’ve started a new filing system, along the Heath Robinson line. Take an A4 envelope, scrawl the name of the writing project on it with a marker pen – can’t help but use big letters that way. Now, instead of putting my used notes in the bin, they are tucked into envelopes. There’s no other order to this method, which I’m sure would pain the owners of those immaculate minimal offices, but some of us just aren’t programmed that way, and emptying an envelope is much less time consuming than my old paper trail.
So here’s me, seeing the view through the left side of the window today, still blinded by the reflected sunshine off the greenhouse roof around mid-morning, but this time it’s hitting my right eye. You know what, it does feel better in here. If I just lower the blind a bit I almost think I might get some writing done. Now which drawer am I storing those enveloped notes in?