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My Desk, Up Close and Personal

04/20/2011

Browsing through photos of other writers’ desks made me take a closer look at my own, in all its clutter. My desk, which takes up almost an entire wall of my office, is a 19th century library table made of quarter-sawn oak. It’s eight feet long. Even so, it’s hard to see the wood for all the things it’s accumulated: office supplies, toys, gadgets, and the paper that goes with being a writer even in this electronic age. 

“Clutter” is the wrong word, I’ve decided. It only looks like clutter to the uninitiated. Every tchotchke on my desk comes with a story of its own. Many were gifts, a few were prizes, all have sentimental value as reminders of the people and places that support my writing every day.

Rather than clean it all up, I mapped it out — for my own benefit, as much as anything. My website now includes an interactive guide to my writing desk, which you can tour here. Mouse over the various items on the desk for the stories behind them. 

I’m not saying every writer needs all of these things. I’m just explaining why I do. And now I look at the photo, I see a few clear spots of wood — which means there’s still room for anything else I really need . . .