Saturday, August 11, 2007

Keeping It Straight


We love them. We hate them. They usually get me tangled up in some sort of knot that takes me forever to untangle.

So, I'm in the midst of edits for You Belong to Me - my upcoming release from The Wild Rose Press. I thought I was handling it just fine. Changes? Not a problem. Hey, it's actually better now! Why didn't I see that? D'oh!

Then, as I was going over the book again, I realized I had about four different drafts of the same edits. For some really stupid reason, I'd saved it four separate times. Ugh.

I went through and weeded things out, got it all straightened out so now there is only one. Whew.

That got me to wondering how it is that I can be so completely unorganized and yet so organized at the same time?Isn't that some sort of paradox? My office looks like a hurricane tore through it, and yet, I can find something almost every time I need it. Sure, I might have to sift through a few things, but it usually doesn't take me more than a few minutes to locate a file or the notes I need.

I wonder if every other writer works in this same state of controlled chaos? I have a file organizer on my desk that holds the various folders for whatever book I'm currently working on. Those folders are separated by topic - clothing, people of note, historic events during whichever time period I'm in, foods, places - that sort of thing. They're all labelled and lined up in this organizer. That way, when I need to look something up, or I've printed something out, bingo! I know where it is.

That works for a the beginning of a project. As I delve deeper into the story and the notes get pulled out a lot more, the files tend to pile up on the desk, next to the laptop. The stack sometimes gets pretty dangerously high and then there's the inevitable landslide (fileslide?).
So, I clean it up and reorganize. It lasts a week or so (depending on how often I'm writing or revising), and then the whole process starts over again. I've yet to find a fail-safe method for keeping completely organized (I had to find our tax return from 2004 and for some reason, the folder containing said return was tucked into the folder of things from my sister-in-law's baby shower a year ago - don't ask. I don't really know how I found it, I'm only glad that I did!)

I am envious of people who can get organized and stay that way. I've tried. It's hopeless. Utterly hopeless. Is my life that much more chaotic? I don't think so. I think it's just a case of I know where most things are and I know I'll find it eventually. When the mess really bugs me, I sweep out my office and get it thoroughly cleaned. Really, all this does is create more space for a newer, bigger mess. But it makes me feel better.

Apparently, my computer doesn't help me be more organized, as seen by the four (identical) drafts of You Belong to Me. Well, mostly identical. They were identical by the time I cleaned up and got rid of three of them. Unfortunately, this means that the real editing I was going to do tonight will now wait until tomorrow. But then it will be done and off to my editor.

Each time I begin a new book, I swear it'll be different. Ha. Not going to happen. Neat and organized just isn't in my DNA. I try. I'll keep trying. But I don't think it'll every really happen. My office isn't organized. My first drafts end up a mess of red pen and arrows. My computer needed tidying up every so often. C'est la vie!


Vic Burton said...

lol. I know all about that kind of organization. But, like you I can find what I need when I need it. Hoping soon I can say I have four different drafts of edits for a "soon to be released" :)

Alex Adams said...

Controlled chaos? Yup, that sounds exactly like me :D

Kim said...

It's so nice to know I'm not the only one! =)

ERiCA said...

I wonder if every other writer works in this same state of controlled chaos?

Can't speak for every writer, but I sure do resemble this remark. =)

Best of luck!!

Nita said...

organized? We're supposed to be organized? It's not enough that we're creative, fun people. Now we have to be organized too?

Kim said...

I think we're supposed to be organized, but we're easily forgiven for not being organized! =)