A week ago my desk was clean. I can’t take credit for it. On a day when I didn’t come in until afternoon, one of The Minions (Thank you, Corwin) couldn’t stand it anymore and cleaned it for me. See, I am one of those creative types that enjoys the process of taking things out and getting started, but the process of putting things away…not so much. Plus, when The Minions can’t find any other place to put something, they put it on my desk, usually with my collusion. So my own creative whirlwind and the collective confusion of the whole store come together in a fantastic explosion on my desk. So, Corwin cleaned my desk. A week ago.
Today my desk looks like this…
Now, maybe I seem just a little bit obsessed with desks this week, but they seem so illustrative of my philosophy of organization. See, I also believe in the beauty and satisfaction of accidental inspiration. I know they say that art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. But I would argue that that is true for people with clean desks and organized minds. If you set yourself in a direction, sure, you’ll find what you are looking for along the way. But haven’t you ever had a moment when you weren’t looking for it and inspiration just whaps you in the head and you become enchanted with a new idea you didn’t even have on your radar? Those are the sublime moments that come when you haul all your old knitting magazines out to look for that zip up the back baby sweater pattern and find instead an exquisite shawl that you don’t remember ever seeing before…though you must have since it’s your magazine and you always read them cover to cover. Still, there it is and it reminds you of that beautiful lace weight silk blend you have in stash. And before you can even explain what happened, you’re casting on with a song in your heart, grateful that inspiration has taken you in again. You’re in love and everything is rosey.
Oh, I know about spreadsheets and plans and schedules and knitting hats in March and putting them away in the Christmas box and production outweighing whimsy. And I do that, too. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about inspiration, and surrendering to the moment when the moment reaches out for you.
Today, another of The Minions asked if she could reorganize the books. See, they had been organized alphabetically by authors last name and Zofia was having trouble finding what she was looking for when she didn’t know who wrote a book. She wanted to put hat books with hat books, and sock books with sock books, etc. Now, I have no objection to organizing books. Once upon a time I thought I might grow up to be a librarian. I have always loved libraries and book stores, those temples to inspiration. But my favorite part was the card catalog…remember the card catalog? I can’t tell you how many time I went flipping through the card catalog at random and found something surprising and wonderful. I also loved just wandering through the stacks, offering myself up for inspiration to jump off the shelf at me. I don’t mind organizing books by title, or by author’s last name, or by theme, or by color of the binding. And in the collaborative environment here at OTR, anyone can pretty much do anything they want in the way of organization and be pretty sure half the folks will like it okay, and the other half of the folks will find it a little annoying. Until someone else decides to re-organize according to some new principle. And our book section, while being a decent size and growing, is no match for an actual library or book store. It’s not hard or time consuming to re-organize, change it up a bit.
But I have one small, niggling, little difficulty. Some books have hats and socks…not to mention baby sweaters and tea cozies…in them so it would be hard to figure out how to classify them, but that doesn’t bother me. Some books are predominantly pattern books and some are predominantly technique or design reference books and it would be hard to figure out how to place books that have both, but that doesn’t bother me either. My difficulty is, if someone comes in looking for a worsted weight hat pattern and goes to the worsted weight hat pattern book section…then goes to get the suggested worsted weight yarn and needles…how in the world will they be inspired by the lace weight vintage bed jacket that would be the perfect holiday gift for someone?
I encourage everyone to “misfile” things occasionally. You know, instead of putting all the lace weight yarn in one place, put a beautiful bunch of Artyarns hand beaded silk lace weight in with the DK yarns. You never know where the next inspiration could come from. No one has card catalogs anymore, and there are libraries where they don’t even let you browse the stacks. I love my messy desk for what it reveals every time I turn something over and my only partially organized stuff that gives me enough structure that I always know where things are but not so much that I always know where things are. I know. That doesn’t make much sense. But striking a balance between eclectic mess and organization, that’s what leaves me open to serendipity and discovery.