The office is a mess. Papers stacked with magazines, old mail, checkbooks. Books everywhere: John Updike, John Steinbeck, John Kennedy Toole. Wine for Dummies. Flip flops. Jewelry I was wearing one day which didn't make it back to the jewelry box. Bags of Goodwill donations. A shotgun. A model airplane. Wait...make that two airplanes. Cacti. Argentine money. A juggling set. Dare I go on?
Thinking about cleaning the office has always been a weight on my shoulders because that's all I do: think about it. It's a daunting task not to be undertaken lightly. But this strange conglomeration of items is what you get when you combine two offices in one, as the man of the house and I have done recently. And, lately, I am not feeling as bad about the devestation.
My change of heart could have something to do with Where I Write, a photographic project by Kyle Cassidy. Where I Write is a wonderfully cluttered and fascinating view into the writing spaces of science fiction authors such as Ben Bova, Piers Anthony, and Peter Straub. While some rooms are clean and austere, such as that of Harry Harrison, most are boldly painted, bedecked with books, and chock full of cats, stacks of papers, overstuffed chairs, even model space shuttles.
Besides alleviating my guilt about the mess, this photographic series makes me wonder what the creative spaces of others look like. Are they as cluttered as Michael Swanwick's, as my own? Are they clean and free of distractions? Is there a correlation between the space and what is written in it? Does one have to be messy, or does messiness just go hand-in-hand with creativity?
Perhaps it's as simple as this: someone so wrapped up in another world has little time to dedicate to this one. And so the papers stack up up, the toy banks and mugs and hollow cola cans find their niches in the forgotten corners of the study, and the dust collects; meanwhile, miraculous things are culled from the air, and words are put in their right places.