Thursday, October 2, 2008

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho!

It's time for another blog chain, wherein a bunch of writers blog about a shared question, linking to one another along the way. This round I am second in line after Mary who came up with the question:

What kind of quirky habits or rituals do you have regarding your writing?

(or regarding anything else, if that is more fun.)

Now I certainly have a few quirks. For example at Panera's my favorite sandwich is the Bacon Turkey Bravo (should the name of a sandwich be capitalized? I mean it's just a freaking sandwich and capitalization seems to give it a little too much importance, on the other hand this is its official name. Hmmm.) . I order this sandwich often and every time the first thing I do is open it up and examine the contents.

First off, I always ask for NO tomatoes, but often when I ask for no tomatoes the person making the sandwich forgets and then picks them off at the last minute, leaving behind tomato seeds. Tomato seeds and their accompanying tomato slime are a no go - so those are removed. Then I remove a few slices of turkey. I don't like biting into a sandwich and just tasting turkey, especially since I don't especially like lunch meat turkey.

Then I need to see how much of their special spread they put on (my husband, Andy, swears that this special spread is in fact a mixture of mayo and thousand islands dressing, which I refuse to believe because I hate both of those things, but actually do enjoy this spread within the context of this sandwich at least. If you have information regarding this matter, I strongly urge you to NOT share it with me.) because they usually just slather it on. I usually go through several napkins removing most of it so that it does not squish out when I bite into the sandwich. Spreads or sauces that squish out when I bite into a sandwich is a major no-no, unless we're talking about relish in which case I can't get enough of it... but that's a whole different quirk.

My husband, bless his heart, has become immune to my sandwich behavior, and has actually become a rather helpful ally in my crusade against letting tomatoes touch my food, however there are other times when I am engaged in one of my quirky behaviors when he will look at me like he has no idea where the hell I just came from. It was during one of these times that I floated the idea to him that I might have a touch of the OCD. Our conversation went something like this:

ME: I think I might be a little bit OCD.

ANDY: No you're not.

ME: No, really. I think I might be.

ANDY: Really? Like you have a bit of the face blindness too because you have trouble telling Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro apart?

ME: I really have trouble telling them apart. Which one was in Rain Man again?

ANDY: (Sighing, shaking his head, and giving me the "you are an alien" look.)

ME: And I think I might be OCD too. Just a tiny bit.

ANDY: No, you don't. You're not clean enough to have OCD.

And there you have it, from my own husband. And what the hell does any of this have to do with writing? Well, in her post Mary discussed her need for a neat and clean working space, which in turn made me examine my own workspace.

My working space is less tidy and more... well, chaotic. That one clear spot on the desk is usually occupied by my laptop (for when I do my part-time transcribing job), but if the laptop was not filling that spot within twenty-four hours or less the piles of stuff would soon fill that space as well. The only stuff on this desk that is actually necessary to my writing, besides the computer, of course, is: the glass of water, chapstick, tissues, and cell phone... oh wait there is actually a notebook buried somewhere on there with some plotting notes, and I'll occasionally take a peek at that. Also, the cell phone is only important in that I write while my baby naps, so if the phone rings I need it close by so I can silence it as quickly as possible before it wakes him up.

Now here you get the bigger picture. The horrible old chair is wwwaaaayyy past it's prime (a hand-me-down from my father-in-law to my husband), and when you sit back, it tilts so far back that my feet don't touch the floor, and if I sit this way for too long I start to loose all feeling below the knees.

Above me are the crappy Ikea shelves of death. The stupid things can barely support their own weight on the wall, and so only very light objects can be placed on top of them, but even better they are made of this slick material so that if the people in the apartment next door slam a door too hard, something sharp and dangerous can come careening off the shelf and onto my head. It gives the whole proceedings a real sense of excitement.

The full length mirror... well, that is just there because we don't have anywhere else to put it, and it mostly just exists so that I can make sure my shoes and clothing are working together okay.

As for quirks or rituals proceeding the actual writing I can't say that I have many besides always briefly giving into the lure of the Internet and email when I first sit down at the computer (a great quote from the Simpsons I saw a few months back. Sideshow Mel is talking to Lisa and he tells her, "Applause is an addiction, like heroin, or checking your email." This is sooo true. Uh, well the applause and email at least.).

I always had this idea that as a writer I would have a desk looking out onto a beautiful scene that would instantly fill me with inspiration. And there actually is a pretty good view from my window:

However, I've since learned that from windows come glare on the computer screen or glare in the eyes, which is why I sit with my back to the window and usually keep the blinds closed. There is probably something deep in this, like that writers need to look inward to find inspiration... or maybe it just tells me that I need to worry about a Vitamin D deficiency.

And there it is: a peek into my own personal writing life. I have a feeling that many more quirks and odd rituals will be revealed before this chain is over and you can find the next one over at Archetype Writing.


  1. Your writing space looks better than mine! We moved into our house in January, and the loft still isn't ready to use. Sigh.

  2. Love the post!!! Esp the pictures! (I might have to borrow that idea for mine);-) And that view out your window is gorgeous!!!! Wow, love it :) And by the way, I do the exact same thing with tomatoes - maybe there is a little OCD in all of us :D

  3. Kate, you're hilarious! I bet you could find anything you want in your pile that so many think is a disaster.

    Hmm...I have a feeling some of these things may be touched upon again in a later link.

    Nice job,

  4. HEY!!!! You guys, what's wrong with tomatoes???

  5. I'm with ya. Tomato slime is the end of a sandwich.

    You totally cracked me up. "crappy Ikea shelves of death." I had some of those in our playroom. One of them leapt from the wall of it's own power one day and landed on our cousin. Left a nice goose egg.

    I loved your post.

  6. Aw, drat! I used the wrong word in my post and can't edit it.

    The Ikea shelf of death jumped of ITS own free will. Not "it's." Gah.

  7. Uh, OCD? Heck yes! Anybody that anal about tomato spunk has to be a bit OCD in my book...and I can't tell Pacino or DeNiro apart either.

    Your desk looks JUST like mine...only I think mine is worse, yikes!

    Good post!

    :) Terri

  8. Whoooo!! Tomato haters of the world unite!

  9. Another awesome post! And I love seeing pictures, too. Especially out your window.

    Glad you explained what the mirror was for. I thought perhaps self-contemplation when the ideas failed to come.

    As for the OCD...well, you'll have to visit my post... ;-)

  10. Well I for one happen to like tomatoes! What's with all of you people? :)

  11. I adore tomatoes...what I found worthy of OCD was ordering a turkey sandwich when you don't really like deli turkey meat that much... :)

    I am also a sandwich re-organizer. I loved that. Great post on your tendencies for OCD and how that relates to writing.

  12. Add another anti-tomato vote! How funny...

    I like my sandwiches pretty plain, really. Not much for sauce of any sort, certainly no tomato-mush.

    For some reason, people find "I want it plain" really confusing. Even when you clarify, "Just the meat, cheese, and bread" they still get it wrong. *sigh*

    I love your window view, btw. If I was you I don't think I'd get much writing done there... too pretty.

    These posts are fun. :)

  13. You are still neater than I am. I'm starting to be glad that our digital camera is broken so I can't post any pictures.

    Oh, and I hate tomatoes. Hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. Ick.

  14. Yes! I am SOOO there with you on the sandwich thing. It grosses me out so bad to find the tomato seed slime left when they just pick them off, even after you told them 'No Tomatoes!'