So with the advent of the wonderful electric swing, I’ve finally had a chance to clean off my writing desk and sort through all the junk that has been piling up there over the past four months. Lots of filing, lots of sorting, lots of “What the heck was I going to do with this?” moments. But at last, I finally have a clean desk! Well, a cleanish desk.

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And yes, there are two computers on that desk. After eight years, I’ve almost run my old Mac into the ground (it’s currently held together with a series of stickers). It still works, but it deserved a bit of a retirement. The new one doesn’t have Word on it, so I continue to use the old one for already-written fiction I don’t want to bother converting to the new one, which has the added bonus of not cluttering up my new computer with useless files I rarely open.

I’ve also *finally* found and updated my day-planner, so you know what that means: STICKERS! That’s right, after almost a year’s hiatus, I’m getting back into collecting stickers for my minor daily achievements. Submit a new story? ORANGE SMILIE STICKER! Finish reading a book? PURPLE SMILIE STICKER! Sell a story? GIANT SPARKLY SMILIE STICKER!

Anyway, it makes me happy, so I’m sticking with it. If one’s going to be easily entertain and have a deep-seated need for positive reinforcement, there are a lot more expensive and annoying ways to achieve that than buying a couple $0.99 packs of stickers.

I’ve also finally gotten a prioritized list of writing projects together, so I’m hoping–if this whole swing-thing works out (the Little Guy’s sleeping in it RIGHT NOW, ftw!) for even just half an hour to two hours at a time–I’ll be able to start making progress on that list again, which would feel absolutely amazing.

Another challenge I’ve taken on this week (though I suspect it will take far more than a week to get through it) is to sort through all the boxes of books I packed up and took with us when we moved from Maine. I have, all told, NINE BOXES of “to-read” books stacked up in the garage, and after a year of not even thinking about more than a handful of those books (and realizing that my average yearly turn-around of reading is between 20-30 books), I’ve finally decided to sort through them and make the hard decisions. I’m all for being a book hoarder (Mmmmmm…booooooks…), but we’ve still got a fair amount of moving in our future, and hauling around books I don’t even crave to read seems silly to me. Plus, I’ve been watching way too much about tiny houses, and I’ve got an itch to downsize. So in the name of simplicity, I’ve decided to keep only 50 “to-read” books. That’s at least a year’s worth of reading JUST books I own and haven’t read yet. Here are the rules:

1. No more than 50 books, though books I might share with my husband (Neuro books, for example) can count as half-books, since it’s not just me interested in reading them.

2. The books have to be mine. I’m not counting any of the books I borrowed from my mother, or any of my husband’s books. If I never get around to reading those, that’s on me, but not on my bookshelf.

3. Partially-read books (anthologies, for example) that I’d like to keep must be counted as “to-read” books, and contribute to the total 50.

4. Any book I’ve read, I can keep. No splitting hairs, no worries. If it’s read, it’s fine. I *can* get rid of books I’ve read, but I’m not requiring myself to make the hard choices on those. Being read is a free pass to my bookshelf. (This is great for reference books I read in college, and don’t quite want to get rid of, even if I don’t know when I’ll open them again.)

5. There are three exempt categories: 1) craft-related books I haven’t read yet, and 2) antique books I haven’t read cover-to-cover, and 3) Apex books. #1 is off-limits because I can’t just sit down and read a dozen how-to-write books without screwing up my head and sending my inner critic into a frenzy. Since I have to space those out and because I typically bought them on the advice of other authors I respect and/or felt they would be useful to me, they get exempted. I can get rid of ones I’ve read and didn’t like, but I won’t penalize ones I haven’t read. #2 is off-limits because some of them (like the old science books from the early 1900s) are books I like to flip through, that smell great, and look cool when I stack them up somewhere. Since most of the information in them is probably out-of-date, I don’t worry about reading these for info. It’s more about their looks and their historical value. #3 is off-limits, because a number of the books I’ve formatted I haven’t had a chance to read cover-to-cover (though I’ve skimmed all of them), and because Apex gives me books from time to time, and that’s part of my compensation. Also, they’re cool books, even if I haven’t always had a chance to read them!

6. I can’t buy new books to add to the “to-read” pile unless there is room, which means I need to read a book from the “to-read” pile before I can get another to replace it. This is my fail-safe so I don’t get back into book hoarding. “Read one to get one!“–That’s my new motto. Which also gives me motivation to actually read the books in my “to-read” pile, rather than letting them languish there for another decade.

7. Once I’ve read a “to-read” book, it can be kept indefinitely as Rule #4 indicates. More motivation to read and finish books rather than start and forget about them! (I have a somewhat bad habit of reading multiple books at any one time, which slows down book turnover considerably.)

And that’s it! Those are the rules, and I’m going to try (TRY TRY TRY!)  to stick to them.

Onward and upward, my friends!

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