Disorientation, rage, despair, exhaustion, frustration … not to put too fine a point on it, since we were snowed in again today, I have been tidying my study. A perfectly hideous process. The writing of each novel has inevitably involved buying a new and different set of books. Thus when I started trying to get a grip on it all in the course of the day, I realised that not only did I still have whole strata of Ed-related material handily to hand for no very good reason, since Book of Ed went to press in the middle of 2007, there were whole skeins of stuff relating to the book I wrote in 2005, information technology and history of science, and the one I wrote in 2006, winemaking, modern Italian history, etc. (neither was published) still cluttering up the place, with material to do with elves fauns & fairies perched uneasily on top of it. One of my absolute principles is never just to poke books into spaces, because that way, you will never find anything. If — admittedly a big if — something actually reaches the safety of the shelves, it is within a category, ‘books about the English Civil War’, let’s say, or ‘Thirties aesthetics’. Thus, skyward-mounting piles, with gappy shelves behind. So, having committed myself to a sort-out, I have spent a grubby and exhausting day shifting books around. So many things haven’t been shelved in living memory that I have of course found the usual problem: the various thematic runs no longer fit in the assigned space. So I have had to de-shelve and re-shelve, exhuming an unconscionable number of dead daddy-long-legs in the process. All in all, I have ended up feeling unsurprised that I haven’t got around to it since 2004, since it has been depressing, tiring and annoying. However, looking on the bright side, I have found several things I have been looking for for quite some time. One contributory factor to things wobbling out of control has been Honey the Hamster-loving Hippie: the poor soul has to work out some way or another to clean up my study, so since her arrival in our lives, she has dealt according to her lights with my deep-structure order/surface chaos. What she does is to pick stuff off the floor around my desk and put it in tidy piles; since she does this by size, books and paper related to work in progress may disappear to the extent that it takes me weeks to find them again. I can’t say anything since the situation is obviously entirely my fault — though during the shelving part of today’s operation, I have discovered several books she hasn’t been able to resist poking into a likely-looking space, and repatriated them to where they belonged. But the biggest mystery of the last months, the fate of the second notebook for the current novel in draft, the absence of which drove me almost insane in the late autumn, remains unsolved. I feel it really has to be in a heap somewhere, but I am working down to something very near bedrock now, and it has yet to emerge. Since the work in question has now been defined as finished, it no longer matters, but I would quite like to find it. Anyway, I am sure all this grief has been worthwhile, since finishing the current round of tidying may Honey-proof my life — at least for a while. A happy thought to sustain me during my antlike toil.


  1. Eleanor Says:

    A stupendous accomplishment! Have at least 3 large gins.

  2. The Man From Maryport Says:

    Sounds like the entire bottle’s in order . . .

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