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Archives | Sylvia McNicoll

Finding the desk in your messy office. A how-to guide.

Arthur Slade (author of Island Doom) inspired me.  Okay maybe he shamed me.  He posted photos of his treadmill desk and his lonely regular desk in a blog about the benefits of tread writing.  They both looked…tidy. I’ve been avoiding my treadmill and my office in general because the clutter in it has multiplied like tribbles. Only not as cute.

 I know I should probably appear on a reality tv show where they do an intervention.  And I’ve edited enough articles on organizing your home or hiring an organizer that I feel I should be an expert on this topic.

So I thought I’d break it down in manageable steps and I’ll lay them out for you all in case you suffer from overwhelming mess too.  (I always thought every writer suffered from this disability till I saw Arthur’s desk. ) Remembering that an organizer charges about $250 an hour and only stays for an hour at a time because most people can’t endure more.  Here goes:
Cleaning the office.
Step 1  Take “before” photo.  Post it on Facebook, you know you can’t back away from cleaning up then.
Step 2  Pick up all  paper and take it to recycling before the truck shows.  Even the huge card that says you are the best author in the world.  Even the newspaper that has that nice photo of you.  Really do you need three copies. And the origami crane, castle, octagon your biggest fan folded for you.
Distraction #1 Jackappoo Mortie decides I must be taking him for a walk since I’m heading outside to the blue box.  What can I do?  Half an hour later I’m back.
Distraction # 2  Oh, thats where that PLR form is.  I really have to update it with my latest novel crush.candy.corpse.  Public Lending Rights requires my ISN number.  But I have a hard cover and paper edition.  I must go on to the website to find out if I need to register both…oh, I missed the May deadline.  I make myself a note on my Icalandar to register next February.
Distraction #3 While I’m on the computer I check email, Facebook and Twitter.  For good measure I do a google search on crush. candy.corpse in case someone’s said anything nice lately.  Someone did, I retweet.
Step 3  Take box of books to the cellar.  First I label the box, crush.  Will I forget that they’re my books and look in some day for  orange pop?
Step 4  Collect all the Lego and put it in a box on another floor of the house.
Distraction # 4  Answer the phone and chat with author friend Estelle Salata (The Happy Journal of Tori Edwards) Make big plans for a writer lunch tomorrow. I deserve it, I’m working very hard today. An hour later I’m back.
Step 5  Sweep desk and floor.  Bonus!  I find pens and a pencil sharpener.
Distraction #5 I sharpen every pencil I can find and place it in my green jar against the eventuality of never finding that sharpener again.
Distraction #6  Sharpening pencils makes a person hungry!  I make a snack. Oh heck it’s close enough to lunch.  I enjoy a turkey sandwich. “What?” Mortie barks.  “I want turkey too.”  I feed the dog.
Step 6  An hour later:  Wash desk and floor with vinegar and water.  Dry desk.  It’s starting to almost look good!
  
Step 7  Take “after” photo of desk.  True the whole office is not perfect yet.  You can’t see all the author props piled up on top of the cupboard in this photo.  My spare brain, my rubber chicken, three dog stuffies, a snare pole, a tiger and an identicane.  Still it may never be this clean again and we must celebrate the steps along the way!  The floor looks like floor now too but it’s not what we in the business call a real photo op. Just imagine dark brown parket with a tile missing.
Now the goal of this was to get up on the treadmill and write!  Instead (woof, woof) the mail carrier came and I filled out some addendum contracts on my luxuriously clean and spacey desk.  It was very nice. Then I walked to the postoffice to mail the contracts and by then I was so exhausted I sat at the dining room table where I almost always write and banged out 1,200 words.  Twelve hundred not some paltry one thousand words! 
  

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And the winner is…

Sarah Kim from Cleveland Elementary Public School in North Vancouver, B.C.
A while back ago, in desperation I drew my own courtroom sketch for my power point presentation on my new book.  My local librarian, Laura Williams, suggested taking an art class.  Does this answer the commonly asked author  question do you own illustrate your own books?  So for the last three author presentations of crush. candy. corpse I created a contest.  Draw a better courtroom scene than the author’s rendition.  The winner gets…fame, fortune, all my appreciation and…drum roll…an autographed copy of crush.candy.corpse.   Why did I choose this drawing over all the others?  I love the eyes, there’s a Japanese anime look about them.  The characters’ expressions add a touch of humour.  Yes, yes, this drawing just made me smile.  Thank you Sarah!  The book will go out in the mail tomorrow.

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Imagine in the Park- A different kind of success

Great props, all nicely displayed and labelled. We did have fun.

How do you prepare for a drop-in event – one that likely won’t draw your demographic audience? I made Mars Bars Squares,brought a spare brain, always handy, a coffee

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bean necklace, some feathers, a rubber chicken, three squawking stuffed birds, some sample books, my laptop, a blindfold, an identicane and a portable sound system. Left my ego at home.

Not a Robert Munsch routine-I’m mugging my eldest daughter’s favourite pose for my son in law.

At this point I should mention I was starting to get a sore throat. The sound system I strapped on was a crutch. I really never needed the volume. It rained and the workshops and blue pencils we had envisioned turned into one on one writing chats with kids. We were totally en-tented and the sound of the drops rattling on the canvas was very soothing. Within minutes I’d sold my sample crush.candy.corpse. I wasn’t even trying or I would have bought more.

The laptop was a brilliant backup as I could open up any of my power point presentations complete with my book trailers and show them on an individual basis. I didn’t draw blockbuster hundreds, but I talked with such neat kids. Showed them my “sensation stations” so they could think about using their five senses when writing. And I spoke with their parents, handing out tip sheets I’d created on literacy. One mother and daughter are definitely going to check out my favourite bookstore A Different Drummer.
Another Iranian boy returned a few minutes later to ask for some more writing tip.
Such a wonderful opportunity to talk about the excitement of writing with one child at a time.

I was sorry for the hard working arrangers and volunteers of this festival that more kids didn’t turn out. But at the end of the day I felt such deep satisfaction. And I couldn’t have articulated why until I interviewed a writer, Jacqueline Guest, author of Outcasts of River Falls from Bragg Creek, Alberta this morning. She talked about how writing isn’t all about the crappy royalty cheques. (I chuckled at that one.) It’s about passing on the magic of reading. That moment when you connect with a young reader and turn them on. This festival gave me the opportunity to pass on my passion for writing. I’d say I saw the magic wash over at least twenty young writers. A pretty good number, I’d say. Thank you to Patti Cannon

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and all the Imagine in the Park volunteers. Pretty sure Ryan will save the world. Thanks also to the parents who took the time to give their kids this experience.

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SEEK School Campus

First they visited me, then I visited their campus–that’s the Saturna Ecological Education Classrooom.

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The students were back at their own home base schools which is why the campus looks deserted.

I like the chore list

Not sure I could sleep this high up.

I hope to return sometime for a sleepover writing camp. No wireless devices are allowed. Guess I could live without wifi for three days.

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