18 January 2010

January 2010 is still January.

I've written before about the challenges of London winters. The sun comes up late, and goes down early. Sometimes the clouds are so thick it never seems to show up at all. Many of the tasks of ordinary life--running errands, getting exercise, eating something besides ready-meals--seem twice as hard in January as in June.

Adding to this is that the two rooms in the flat in which I am theoretically the most productive--the kitchen and the study--face the space between our house and the next, and become markedly colder and darker as the year does. Check out last February's view from my desk:

For the most part, this year has been a lot easier than last, thanks to the coping strategies I learned from having been through it before. I check the sunrise/sunset times every day, and make a point to appreciate that each day is three minutes longer than the day before. (Yes, 7:55-16:25 is a short day. But three weeks ago we were at 8:05-15:50.) If the weather is sunny, I know that it is vitally important to do whatever I have to do outside the house between 11-2, when the sun is high enough to be seen above the buildings. (I also know how important it is to invent something to do outside in the sun, even if I don't have actual errands to run.) I make a conscious effort to do things after four p.m., even if it is dark outside and I feel as though the day is over.

Unfortunately, I also moved my workspace out of my study and onto the couch in the reception room. The reception room gets a lot more sun, which is good. But my study is now a paper-filled black hole that I never want to go back to, which is bad. Worst of all, because I relax and work in the same place, I'm relaxing waaay too much and not getting much work done!

So, New Year's Resolution #2: Make my home office into a place I want to be.

This is going to be among my tougher resolutions, because tidying things up scares the crap out of me. For the most part, I'm not messy because I don't put things away. I'm messy because I get new paper, and I don't know where it should go. All of the available space is filled with old paper, and to make room I'd have to go through all of the old paper. Can I throw out the old manuscripts covered with notes from my critique group? How about this info from when I first joined the Junior League? And maybe I can't actually get rid of any of it, and all of this paper is just going to stay here piled up, and I've just discovered something important that I thought I sent in months ago, and my chest is getting tight, and oh, hey! The Gilmore Girls is on! I think I'll make myself a cup of mint tea and a crumpet and go back to the living room.

And I have a terrible time sticking to organizational systems, so even looking at a work area well-tidied holds early glints of anxiety. I know I'm going to have to go through it all again, sooner than I'd like.

As with all the other elements of January survival, I can get through it, because I know why it's important. Soon the sun will reach the study windows, and I'll have a chance to clean the patio, and I'll want my desk to be usable so I can sit and write the Great American Teen Novel and enjoy the March-April view:

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