LUCY BURDETTE: I've been thinking about messy desks. Though I can clean up my office when I've finished a project, while I'm writing a book, my desk is a disaster. And unfortunately, my office is a little nook just steps from the bed. There are books stacked around the bedroom, papers strewn on the nightstand, and a teetering pile of scraps and articles and drafts on the desktop. And since I like to work in bed, we often have to shovel a big pile off John's side before he can get in at night.
Even though I no longer practice as a clinical psychologist, I still belong to my professional organization and enjoy keeping up with the latest research and trends. One of the headlines in the October issue of the American Psychological Association Monitor blared: "A messy desk encourages a creative mind, study finds." The researcher found that "working in a tidy room encourages people to do socially responsible things...But working in a messy room seems to help them try new things and come up with creative ideas."
What a relief! Justification for my chaos! How about you Reds? Neat or messy?
HALLIE EPHRON: My office is small (about 8x10) so I can't let things get too out of control or I'm paralyzed. Right now it's middling messy. When things get too out of hand I go into a mad straightening frenzy. Then relax until it's driving me nuts again. That pile on the floor is my TBR pile. It's scary, so I try not to notice it. And you can't see, but a note on my desk says "Why was he killed?" I do not know the answer. Yet.
I try to surround myself with good karma. So on the shelf over the window, there's the green glass swan I picked up on eBay after Never Tell a Lie was published, along with my lucky feather collection and my favorite slinky. On the wall is my Edgar nomination with a wooden cat I grabbed off at Kate's Mystery Books' final yard sale, and pictures of my wonderful daughters.HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Whew is right. Organized-messy. But I know where everything is, absolutely. I use the "piles of files" system, and it works admirably. FIles on the chairs, files on the couch, files on the floor, files on the desk. Marketing is on the dining room table, I admit.
I think the good karma thing is important, too. On my desk I have a rock that's etched with "imagine" and "patience"--ooh, I need to remember that right now. There's also a bottle of wine from Sue Grafton, and see? my Agatha teapots (and Emmys) are on the shelf. Reminding me things CAN work.
LUCY: I forgot to say, though I've been nominated for Agathas, I've yet to come home with the prize. But you might be able to see in the upper right hand corner of my photo a tiny little teapot. Krista Davis gave these out the year several of us were nominated against each other--she thought we all should go home with a teapot! Sweet!
RHYS BOWEN: I'm organized-messy too. When I'm writing I build a wall of research materials around my chair so I can swivel and grab what I need without getting up. I also have my award nominations framed on the wall above me so I can look up on despairing days and say "Wow, I really did get that Edgar nomination. I can't be so bad after all." But I have to confess that I do have a variety of toys to play with when I need distractions--my Edgar Allen Poe doll, one of those picture cubes with Monet paintings, a spinning hologram thingie, wooden animals, a stuffed cow that moos.. and there are more.
But the one way that tidiness has improved recently is using Sticky Notes and Evernote on my computers and iPhone so I don't need endless paper to-do lists.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Ha ha, Hallie, you're only seeing half of the bookshelves to the right of my desk--those are my TBR shelves. Too scary to contemplate, although better than they were, as this summer I purged two-thirds of the books.
As for my office, this is my desk at its most organized. There's lots of creative stimulus--my friend Steve Ullathorne's London photos, maps, personal photos and souvenirs from various books--but if I don't keep it somewhat organized, I can't work. Either that means I'm not creative, or there are exceptions to the study. I hope it's the latter...
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I'm going to confess that not only do I not have an office, I don't even have my own desk.
While the hubby and I used to have a home office, when the kiddo came along, it became his bedroom. Right now we sort of share a desk in our dining room — expect it's really the husband's — while I tend to work on a laptop in cafes, the local library, our sofa. Mostly the sofa... In my fantasy life, though, I have a library/office that looks like Nigella Lawson's.
LUCY: How about you Reds? Are you mess/creative? Any tips for keeping the chaos in check?