So, as I mentioned before, Husband, in his wisdom, decided that the best idea he had ever had would be for us to swap studies. He gets the box room at the back of the house, north facing, looking over the boiler house roof and into the woods beyond. And I get the room at the front of the house, south-facing and a little more than twice the size, with accompanying futon and a big space to lay out my yoga mat, should I be so inclined. Yes, I will have to share this space when friends come to stay, but frankly that doesn’t happen very often because we live so bloody far from everyone else we know on the planet! On the other hand, my new desk overlooks the front garden, with a view down the lane and across the fields to the poplar plantation, about half a mile away. Not only is it a great view, but I can see people coming!
So far so good.
What I was not bargaining for is the sheer accretion of junk that has built up over five years of occupancy. There are mountains of magazines to sort through, clippings to find a home for, bills to file, and then there are the hundreds of other bits I never knew had. A bellpull made of six gaudily decorated velour camels, given by a distant-travelling cousin. A mug from an old work project with a cartoon on it of my own design. Sufficient packs of playing cards to run a sizeable poker tournament – we never play cards. Tiny audio tapes from an old Dictaphone machine, now long lost. A bag of marbles – blamed on Husband. A slightly used Barbie doll with complete wedding trousseau. Empty A4 clip files and notebooks galore. And how many packets of staples does one person really need?
(I’m not even going to mention the host of dead biros, fluff and ancient receipts for distantly deceased electronic equipment.)
It turns out that Number One on the list of activities when planning your home office is:
CONDUCT THE MOTHER OF ALL DECLUTTERINGS!
Having spent long hours toiling over heaps of useless junk, diligently throwing out anything I hadn’t looked at in six months, I then went through the following process.
Start by being proactive: Being me, I went out and got a book from the Library on how to plan your home study. It has lots of pretty pictures. What it does not have is a list of things you will need. It says you must work it out yourself.
Question 1 in the book: How much storage will you require?
Answer: How the fuck do I know? I’m a writer! By definition, I generate vast quantities of paper! And I draw too, so double that!
Cunning Strategy: Make sure the Husband takes on responsibility for household filing so at least I don’t have to think about that. I hate it anyway. He can have it in his office so I never have to think about it again. Plus, its one less filing cabinet to fit in.
Concern: I have all these writing notebooks that I may need to refer to as a part of my work, so they will need to be handy. But what do I do with all the Morning Pages notebooks and diaries? I need to keep them because they record my life, but I doubt I shall need to drag them off the shelf on a regular basis.
Hesitant solution: Bung them in big plastic crates with mouse-proof lids and store them in the boilerhouse? Discard on the basis that its too risky because mice are fiendishly devious little bastards.
Sneaking suspicion: I would rather go out and spend a fortune on funky stationery than plan any of this stuff.
Probable outcome: I will be cheap and impulsive, go out to The Range and buy a bunch of ugly stuff I don’t like instead of working out how much I need and saving for the really nice stuff I do like, and none of it will do what I want/need it to, and then I shall not want to use my new office as a result, i.e. back to square one.
Sudden flash of determination: I am not going to ‘cheap out’ again. I’m going to do it right this time. Because I deserve a nice place to create.
(Sneaking suspicion and Probable outcome persist in the back of my mind.)
Intermediate action: Go on fact-finding mission. In other words, hang out in posh shops looking at all the kit I can’t afford but would dearly love. Come home feeling resentful, poor and even less determined to plan sensibly than I was before.
Current state of affairs: sulking.
Yes, I would love to be able to say I went out and bought a label maker and some washi tape and now my life is complete, but it hasn’t happened yet. I have a desk and a chair, and three bookshelves double stacked with books, and a slightly denuded pile of Sherlock clippings, but my magnificent new working space has yet to materialise.
I’ll keep you posted.
(And if you have any tips, let me know. Please?)