Friday, October 2, 2009


At 5:52 this morning, Philip leaned over my bed and said, "Hey, Mom, did you know that if you give a cat a mint, it sneezes for like twenty minutes?"

I sat up immediately. "And how did you find this out, Philip?"

I listened to a story involving Sarah, one of the already crazy cats, a perfectly timed cat yawn, interest in the texture of a cat tongue and a mint Tic Tac. You can fill in the rest. (She's fine by the way, and is safely sleeping right now on a basket of papers on my desk)

Papers on my desk lead me to announce my latest plan: I am going to get organized. It occurred to me that when I went through some of my writing titles that I don't really have records of sending my stuff out. I get emails from aspiring writers who can tell me, "I sent this to 17 publishers, 4 agents..." and go on to tell me dates and times and responses.

My system is more like, "Wait. Where did I put chapter two?" or "Ok, let me send John the editor an email to make sure he got this rewrite. Did I finish that rewrite?"

It's so aggravating when editors don't publish my stuff just because I haven't sent it yet. You would think they could anticipate more.

It's not that I haven't tried organizing. It's actually that I have tried organizing one too many times I write things in different notebooks or I save them under different file names and then misplace the notebooks and forget the file names.

I teach people how to organize their writing. I start by explaining there are only two types of organizers: internally organized people and externally organized people. Internally organized people can write, do taxes, compose a libretto with a messy desk, cats, and piles of laundry all around them. (That's me) Externally organized folks need spare, neat space, the rug vacuumed (preferably with all the swirls going in the same direction) and the dishes done before they can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Part of the problem is that I write in short breaks between work, house and kids. I am going to try to organize my time as well. I might even change the layout of this blog. I want to have one of those WIP bars with my daily word count. I have never even thought of doing such a thing, probably because I like to work on different novels and types of writing simultaneously.

I told the kids this morning. Emma looked at Christopher. "It's like all 'o' things today - organizing, October..."

Christopher added, "Odd.."

Then he went on to explain that Cami, our insanely mischievous kitten, had just swallowed a piece of string that had broken off Emma's YoYo string. He had tried to pull it from her mouth, but she growled and went under the sofa until she had eaten it.

I can't tell you how happy I am that I am internally organized.


Elizabeth Bradley said...

I am organized. Still trying to whip The Husband in shape. :-) I'll tell you this much, staying organized is a lot easier now that the kids are gone.

I did not know that mints made cats sneeze. Learn something new every day visiting blogs.

Bish Denham said...

Oooops! I am somewhere inbetween internally and externally organized. What does that make me? Confused? Undecided? Throwing up?

storyqueen said...

Internal Organizers Unite!!

I have never heard it put that way, but you are so right.

(I also write on several things simultaneously.)


Anne Spollen said...

Elizabeth, you can also spend a serious amount of time watching a dog lick peanut butter off the roof of his mouth...I learned that last winter when we were iced in.

I don't know about you, Bish -- you won't fit the pattern of my Composition I lesson plan. That's ok, and welcome back to the blogosphere!

Finally, Shelley, someone who works on several things simultaneously. Stories have moods and certain ones match your mood better than others. Either that or we all have mood disorders...

Mary Witzl said...

You crack me up. That first paragraph had me howling! I'm even tempted to buy some Tic-tacs and find a cat (just kidding. Really. But God, that must have been cute...)

I've been trying to organize my writing stuff too. A year ago, I got a call about something I'd sent off and I had COMPLETELY forgotten I'd sent it off. That doesn't look good, does it?

adrienne said...

I'm good at removing the clutter I can see - if I bump into it constantly or it falls on me, it's gone. But things like computer files never seem to make it into neat little folders...

Your son's addition to the o's made me laugh.

Jemi Fraser said...

If you find one of those externally organized people - could you send her my way. I'd really like to see her vaccuum little swirls into my rug!

It seems a lot of us writer-types organize internally - must be a connection in there somewhere!

K.C. Shaw said...

I get way too anxious if I don't keep meticulous records about where I've sent stuff and when. I think I'm an internally disorganized person trying very hard to make up for it.

Your cats seem to fit in your household quite well. :)

Linnea said...

I can so-o-o identify with your cat. I sneeze if I eat mints too!

Carrie Harris said...

I'm still laughing at the fact that he had to tell you at 5-fricken-52 in the morning.

And I'm just not organized. At all.

Glynis said...

I am trying, that is all I can say about me getting organised. :0

Loved your cat stories.