Friday, August 4, 2017

7 Ideas From My Messy Desk

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Howdy, Campers~ Happy Poetry Friday! My poem and the link to PF are below.

We at TeachingAuthors are easing our way back into blogging after a lovely summer s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ahhhhh.

Our round-robin topic is The View From Our Desks.
Bobbi started us out from her new home, which she and her cat, Comma, are just moving into. She posted a poem aptly titled, The View From the Window by R.S. Thomas; Carmela's view is itinerant, beginning with her Creativity Camp, followed up with conference presentations (Carmela deserves a vacation!); Esther gave us stunning out-the-window views from her Chicago office; JoAnn is spending the summer writing poetry in her outside office, and Carla shares the long view: both the view from her office window...and also what she's thinking as she edits her upcoming book.

I've titled this post, "7 Ideas From My Messy Desk" because I've read that including numbers in a blog title attracts attention. (For you, dear readers, there really are seven ideas at the end.)

You and I know we can prove anything with sources from the internet, (which is why I use Snopes.com to check who actually said a quote, among other things)...and (surprise!) I've found a post which cites several studies indicating that a messy desk actually spurs creativity. Just the kind of study I love!

And...my desk is messy--or at least the side table is. I was going to clean up my office up for you...but why pretend?

I try to keep my desk itself clear, but on my side table you'll see:
  • the aftermath of our annual block party (I want to print up new signs for next year before I put them away); 
  • books I'm going through for my revised Writing Picture Books for Children class this fall; 
  • two books my father loved by Tagore, which he discovered in India during WWII that I've been meaning to read for decades; 
  • my handout, "Social Change Through Every Day Actions" from my presentation at the International Literacy Association's conference in Orlando two weeks ago; 
  • a pile of 50-year-old letters from my father; 
  • books and notes from my trips to New Zealand and Japan this spring;
  • a bunch of nearly unreadable ideas jotted down in the middle of the night.
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Not neat. But an office I would have died for when I was a teenager.
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Here are two poems on today's topic:

MY DESK 1.
by April Halprin Wayland

If you come by
I'll clean it up
but if you don't
I won't.

MY DESK 2.
by April Halprin Wayland


My desk's a sorcerer's printing press,
a paper field
of don't-forgets.

Memos piled in mountain peaks.
Scrawled ideas
in ancient Greek.

Each brilliant message?
Lost in space.
Possibly a sign of grace. 

poems (c) April Halprin Wayland 2017. all rights reserved.

Do you ever write notes to yourself at night...brilliant ideas that are sure to rock the literary world...and when you wake up, they're either utterly incomprehensible, absurd or worse, ho-hum? Here's seven from the last few weeks:

  1. Never say no to a rubber band; 
  2. "I'm not shouting!" she shouts; 
  3. a friend wrote to me: "so glad the conf was good and...that you had fun at the Penguin dinner. (which sounds like the start of a poem)"; 
  4. per Nancy Bo Flood: Some languages have no tenses; so they can't talk about the past or future; 
  5. Two kids: one named Smoke, one named Mirrors;
  6. from A.Word.A.Day: "Natalie came home from school excited and worried, announcing, “Laura was hit by the school bus and had a conclusion!”;
  7. Mr. Tongue Goes to the Unemployment Office (I have no idea what I was thinking, but I'm still laughing!)

I'd love to read ideas you've jotted down late at night!

Thank you, Donna, at Mainely Write for hosting Poetry Friday today!

 posted with the help of Monkey (can you find him in the picture of my office, above?) and Eli, who is pictured in his uncluttered corner office:

14 comments:

JoAnn Early Macken said...

April, yes! I also write notes to myself at night, sometimes turning a light on & sometimes in the dark, depending on how important the idea feels & how wide awake I am when I think of it. Sometimes I'm glad I bothered, & sometimes I'm just baffled. I love "a paper field / of don't-forgets."

Tabatha said...

Your office looks terrific! So glad you have a dog there :-)
"Mr. Tongue goes to the Unemployment Office" sounds entertaining!

Nancy Bo Flood said...

Did you wear a black and white tuxedo to the penguin party?

Just wondering, wandering... Nancy

CS Perryess said...

Great stuff as usual, April.

I'll chime in on ideas from the wee hours, though the experience was my mom's. She woke in the middle of the night with the certainty that she had just dreamed the secret of the universe, & as fortune had it, she had a pen & paper at the bedside. She wrote down the secret of the universe, then went promptly back to sleep. Upon waking, she remembered the situation, but not the message from beyond. She turned to the paper at her bedside & read, "One thousand pigeons."

Sadly, her gift for perceiving such profound universal truths was not passed down to me.

Mitchell Linda said...

Ha! So much fun and funny here.....right down to the monkey. I actually don't have a desk at home. I kinda like it. Writing happens all over the house. I have stashes of books and places I go in different moods. Thanks for the post. What will you do for number eight?

Linda B said...

I think your office looks great, and the fact you can list what's there is even better! Love your poem, especially "a paper field/of don't-forgets." Yes, I write things down in the night, but mostly one word, and too often I have no idea what it means in the am! Love that "tongue in the unemployment office," too, perhaps a poem about keeping quiet? Happy weekend, April!

Brenda Harsham said...

What wonderful things you can see. I often write notes to myself at night. Sometimes I have to get up and write, shorting my sleep, but lengthening my work in progress. Usually I've had a realization about an emotion that's missing from a scene. It's so much easier to find emotions in the dream state. I like your office. Someday, maybe I will set up an office.

Jane @ www.raincitylibrarian.ca said...

I love discovering old scribbled notes, and wondering what on Earth old-me was thinking when she wrote them!!

Molly Hogan said...

This was such a fun peek into your world and your office. I'm still smiling at what you might have been thinking when you scribbled about Mr. Tongue visiting the Unemployment Office. As so many others noted, I love the lines "a paper field/of don't forgets" and My Desk 1 has a special appeal to me--that probably reveals something of my preferred cleaning style:) . Thanks for sharing!

Donna Smith said...

I leave these notes in the middle of the day even and the next day don't know what was so great about the thought. "had a conclusion" LOL!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I don't usually wake up in the night and write down later incomprehensible notes, but I have been trawling my journals and notebooks from the past 40ish years and there are OFTEN bits and pieces like those you list that I just can't fathom every having thought of. My fave here is "Smoke" and "Mirrors" but I think they might be cats.

I often suffer a conclusion after being hit by something big and heavy...

michelle kogan said...

I don't think your desk is so bad April, mines about the same or worse. I loved both of your poems but especially your second one, it's delightful and intriguing! And last but not least here's to the scribblers at night, thanks!

April Halprin Wayland said...

JoAnn ~ Yup--sometimes I AM glad I bothered...and then other times...wha???

Tabatha ~ Dogs make the world go round, right? Look at what Linda Baie says about "Mr. Tongue Goes to the Unemployment Office"...BRILLIANT!

Nancy Bo Flood--ha ha ha! Nope--I didn't wear a tux to the Penguin dinnner. Here's the poem I wrote for that:

AT THE PENGUIN DINNER
by April Halprin Wayland

They all line up at the buffet
eager for this fancy meal;
polar bears next to the seals
(who choose to move three feet away).

Dear Leopard Seal is never rude
she tries to think how best to fill
her plate—thank goodness there is krill!
(The hosts would be her chosen food)
...........................................................

CS Perryess: Though you may not have inherited your mom's gift for receiving universal truths, you inherited the art of telling a hilarious story well. :-)

Linda Mitchell:No office, no desk! I love it. You're a writer in the wild! Regarding idea number eight: well, one idea is just two words: Word Work. It could lead to something interesting...or to nothing at all. And I just wrote down "You're a writer in the wild"... :-)

Linda B ~ I hadn't thought of that--BUT OF COURSE it's about keeping quiet--thanks so much for the insight...now that you've said it, I feel like saying to myself, "duh..." but maybe I'd be better off keeping quiet...

Brenda ~ sometimes it's true for me, too--that emotions are closer when I'm in a dream state...but sometimes I'm too tired to reach for the pen. Regarding wanting an office some day, look at Linda Mitchell's carefree comment about NOT having a desk. :-)

Jane! I think of me-in-the-past as another person, too! I often ask her what the HECK she was thinking...!

Molly ~ thanks for liking that line--I was suddenly aware, as I was writing it, that I wanted to tell the truth, and that's what emerged.

Donna ~ Heavens, yes! Those brilliant thoughts are like spider-webby strands that winds blow away...

Heidi--you're absolutely right: Smoke and Mirrors should be cats! And your comment about conclusions made me laugh ~

Michelle ~ Yes, here's to Night Scribblers, one and all!

Carmela Martino said...

Love seeing your office, April. I agree with others who've already commented on "a paper field/of don't forgets," all the more after being in Alaska and seeing forget-me-nots, which I was told are the state flower.
My nighttime scribbles are pretty much indecipherable, but I still make them occasionally.