November 26, 2020

Things Are Out of Hand: To Goal or Not to Goal

Most of what we read in the news and blogosphere in January is goal-related.  New Year’s Resolutions, the backlash of resolutions, reasons why we are stupid to either make them in the first place, or to deride the goal-setting experience.

I am a chronic goal-setter.  I like goals, because I like that smug satisfaction I get when I cross the item off my list.  For instance, I submitted a short story today. I think it is a long-shot, but it pays, and I set a goal to submit this story three times by the end of March.  I make an untidy hashmark on my calendar, as if I were a prisoner at some sort of Writer’s Alcatraz. One down.  Ha! I have not done my laundry in 15 days, and I am wearing my last pair of underpants, but I am SUCCEEDING.

Chronic achievers have systems.  Tidy minds have tidy lives.  The best mechanics have toolboxes that gleam.  Steel-plated rows of drill bits gleam and blind visitors to the workbench, despite the grease and grime that are married to working on machinery.  I could eat off of those toolboxes.  Actually, given that whole laundry situation, my kitchen isn’t much better.  Those toolboxes are probably cleaner than what I have going on in my food prep area.  Maybe give me a week’s notice if you want to come over for dinner.

For 2016, I wanted to tidy up my desk.  I have this adorable antique writing desk that is probably technically called a secretary desk.  It sounds as if I have a secretary, or maybe that I am a secretary, and neither are accurate, as it does imply a level of organization that is not happening anywhere near this particular human. But it is a beautiful desk, when you can see it.

Sadly, this beautiful, walnut antique secretary desk does not possess a bookcase.  I mean, we have other bookcases.  Many, in fact.  But, despite all of my purges, I have too many books.  I have dug out some books on writing that I want to re-read this year.  I have books I have borrowed from friends to help round out my education (a little Tacitus, anyone?).  I have recent gifts from my husband, and my parents, and a tidy stack of gift cards to bookstores that will be used with giddiness in the coming months.

Classic texts with some 2015 winners.
Old books on the printer, new books to the side.

Where’s the problem?  What could possibly be getting out of hand?

To note: I am not a hoarder.  Just like a mechanic needs multiple wrenches of various sizes in that clean, chrome-accented toolbox, I need these books.  They are stories, histories, works of art.

Old knowledge, new bindings, old bindings, new knowledge.
A precarious tower of knowledge.

I have a few more stacks around the house, but I don’t want to embarrass myself.  Anymore than I normally do, anyway. But remember in that mechanic metaphor?  The mechanic with the clean workspace was a good mechanic.

They aren't going anywhere.
Books I can’t part with, but have no home on the bookshelf.

I want to be a good writer.  I need to emulate that mechanic, because my mind needs to be tidy to keep all of my work separate. My years of slow writing has only contributed to this backlog of ideas stacked in my brain.  Solution? More file space, more bookshelves (!) And I hear there’s this new popular book about a Japanese philosophy of de-cluttering…

And no, you don’t want to know what my computer’s desktop looks like.  It might be worse. It is worse.  One thing at a time.

Pile to read next.  Now there's a goal.
A variety of print media. Why be a snob?

Happy 2016!



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