Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paper, Paper Everywhere!

Sometimes I feel as if I am drowning in paper. I actually love paper. I love messy desks, over-flowing magazine racks, and over-stocked shelves of books. However, sometimes there comes a day of reckoning and every surface I see is covered with undigested pieces of paper.

I will start to write. . Suddenly I am stymied, however, because I need to double check my facts. I know that a copied paper with the facts or a saved article I need is here somewhere, but I can’t locate it. When I start going through a pile, I find things I’ve been looking for in ages past—but not what I need today.
Today was such a day. I had a rare day with a few hours to write. (I would have had more time if I weren’t wasting it grating that blamed zucchini for the freezer.) I start writing and soon begin to doubt myself. I know what I am writing is probably factually correct, but I need to double check my facts to be positive. (This is the same feeling that makes me need to go back and check that I turned out the stove at the very moment Gerald starts to back out of the garage.). Where did I read that story that told these dates, names, or facts? Am I spelling that name/place/object correctly?

So instead of getting that article done, I have instead spent those hours looking through a huge stack in a magazine basket that was somehow turned into an impromptu filing cabinet. No, that is not accurate. Nothing was filed in there. The wide basket was merely a holding pen for a foot of stuff that needed filing. I emptied the basket, and I deliberately carried it to another room, so I would not fill it again.

I managed to throw away a few papers in the wastebasket. (I have already explained that I love paper, and it is very difficult for me to throw away cherished pieces of information. Never mind, that even when and if I get papers filed, I rarely need 90% of them again.)

After some clipping, I did have a stack of saved newspapers to carry upstairs for recycling. (Who can resist also re-reading these months-old newspapers as one clips?) A few items did get filed. Many got put in little separate stacks for me to file soon. (What a fantasy that is!!)

I am one birthday card richer to send someone. (Why was it in the middle of newspapers?) And there was the scrap of paper with an address and phone number I needed a few months ago. Mixed with the ephemera were several magazines that I had never opened. There are a couple stacks of those to carry into the other room.

I am also behind on recording anything that needs to be recorded. That desk (an old door on top of two short filing cabinets) is so cluttered that I know it will take a week to make sense out of the clutter. I love records, but I am a most unfaithful record keeper.

I found and re-read a number of pages of information I found and copied last January at Southern Illinois University’s library annex that is being used to house the Special Collections. I had gotten them encased in clear plastic ready to be stuck in loose leaf binders—but for some reason they had been placed in the bottom of the basket and soon covered up with months of paper debris. Now they sit on the large folding table in the middle of my office.

With all the little stacks of sorted papers still lying around, I cannot say that my office looks much better. I still have not found the copy of the magazine that started my search. But I do feel a little smug about emptying that magazine basket. (Now I only have a half a dozen or so boxes with even more papers to someday look through. When I get through going through them, I have some boxes of my mother's papers stored in the tornado shelter and saved for me to have a project when I am in my frial-elderly stage of life and can't get out of the house.)

But tomorrow I better start again on my article for the Writers Guild anthology with the September 1 deadline. I may have to find an alternate source of information to make my needed factual checks. Sometimes I can find what I need on the Internet, but yet if I don’t immediately use it, I must either write it on a note card or piece of paper to save it. You know what happens to those at my house. Ah well.

1 comment:

Meg in Tally said...

Oh, Sue! I can identify with your angst so well! My desk is piled high and I keep thinking I need to get those things filed and dealt with.

Thankfully, our absentee ballots were in a green envelope so they were easily found in the stack. Too bad they don't color know... bills-yellow, tax stuff-red, stuff to read-blue...etc. I guess that's why you're supposed to deal with mail immediately when you bring it in.

Maybe one day....