The comfort of clutter

May 7, 2024 | Real life | 0 comments

Are you a tidy-desk-tidy-mind writer, or do you prefer the comfort of clutter in your surroundings? I belong to the latter camp: chaos rules okay on the mood board I have hanging beside my pc. That said, it might look like a mess but the general theme is two-fold: writing et moi… Quite narcissistic, come to think of it, all those selfies dotted about. But putting egotism aside, the images and texts are all inspiring reminders to write, write and write again.

For instance, that postcard in the middle, of the woman sucking the end of her pen. That comes from a mosaic found at Pompei and is widely regarded to be a portrait of the great romantic poet Sappho.

The line drawing beside Sappho is an illustration my aunt, Felicitas Wiebenga (aka Fay Mackay) drew for her memoir of growing up in Indonesia, A Path in the Sunshine. She was both an evocative writer and a wonderful artist. As is her daughter, my cousin Mayanne Mackay, who painted the Persian cat.

That red card contains a slogan from The Economist  (essential reading when I was a journalist at Elsevier Science back in the day). It says: “Great minds like a think” which not only exemplifies the kind of clever wordplay I like, but works as a reminder (not always successful) to think before I speak…

I’m always making boo-boos of one sort or another, out loud or on paper, which is why I like the badge one of my edibuddies in the Editors’ Association of Earth sent me. Pinned near the bottom (right), the badge says: “Stet happens”. I love the layers of meaning. It’s not just a pun on the obvious. To me it means, the boo-boo may happen, but it can be fixed. And that’s a comfort.

Another comfort is “Story Template” by Roz Chas on the left. The strip text reads “Once upon a time… Suddenly… Luckily… Happily Ever After.” I bet you and I both follow this wise advice in our writing. Which reminds me, it’s time I stopped faffing about and got back to writing my next book…

PS: the pyramid clock on the cover of this post holds a collection of writing talismans. The heart-shaped stone was painted by my mother, Thea Wiebenga (aka Dorothy Werner), like her sister a wonderfully creative writer and artist. I bought the panic button in the New York Library (a fitting souvenir of one of my flying visits to NYC to interview colleagues for Elsevier Science World). The rainbow heart takes pride of place (but of course) and that mini book was a gift to bring me luck in writing. Now with two books under my belt, and the third on the go, you might say it’s working a charm, yes?

PPS: the clock stopped working eons ago


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