Six years ago I undertook a major home renovation project by adding a great room addition to the rear of my Cape Cod style home. Even before the construction contract was signed, I visualized the space doubling as a weekend writing lounge for myself.
I imagined two glass French doors propped open on spring-like mornings while I was serenaded by fluttering wings of songbirds landing in the shrubbery—a welcome contrast to the backdrop of a soft trickle of water from a small nearby stone fountain. The sweet-and-salty conflict of nature’s wild honeysuckle and mankind’s deeply-roast coffee steam would mingle through the room, encouraged by the flirtatious east-coast breeze. No doubt this would be a writer’s paradise.
Contrary to my vivid imagination, the momentum of my writing has suffered for the past several months due to mental clutter. Partially to blame was the long slog of job-hunting that, fortunately, led me to an exciting and enjoyable new opportunity that both stretches and monetarily-rewards my creativity. Also to blame is the desire to maintain a regular cadence of physical-fitness; activities that directly compete with my pre-dawn writing time.
If mental clutter wasn’t enough, at present my physical writing space is cluttered, too. My large dining table is sans tablecloth except for a white protective padded cover that annoyingly shifts and slides whenever I’m trying to write. At the right of my keyboard is a stack of paid paper invoices waiting for shredding or filing, while at the left stands a small stack of unpaid bills and unsorted mail that creeps atop my mouse pad with each passing day. And finally, there’s the assortment of home improvement implements—tape measure, electrical testing equipment, and bright-yellow twirled mess of an extension cord—occupying the other side of the table waiting patiently to be properly stored in the basement. Granted, this physical clutter is certainly in my control for quick remedy, but it’s been here for four weeks now.
Speaking of my imagined garden view, there’s definitely a stark difference between fantasy and reality. Sadly most of the time the French doors remain shut to block out the constant barking of the Bumpus’ nineteen (okay, three? four?) dogs from the rear adjoining yard, courtesy of a dog door sized to accommodate a Siberian tiger. It’s that, along with their proffered view of an above-ground pool ladder straddled with shocking-colored pool noodles and sundry flotation devices that can be seen just above the sight-line of the six-foot privacy fence I installed last summer. But I’m to blame as well. In the five years since completing my home’s renovation, I’ve yet to install any trees, shrubs, bird feeders, or water features to invite songbirds and restrict the view to my property.
There we have it. Clutter is messing with my writing. But which is easier to remedy—mental clutter, or physical clutter?