I managed to get through Camp Nanowrimo last month, for which I pledged thirty hours of editing on Odd Duck.

While I didn’t get an entire edited manuscript out of it, I did get nine solid chapters, a couple of new friends, and some Winner Goodies, including a nice discount price on a piece of writing software I’ve been eyeing.


Scrivener puts everything I use to write—a word processing program, a file manager, multi-document views, sidebar comments, word searches, images etc.—conveniently on one screen, and throws in my magnetic wall-board and beloved 3×5 cards as well.

It offers manuscript stats, too—including word usages, for those of us with small repetition problems—as well as writing targets, if you want them.

I spent the weekend importing my chapter files, inputting information on my characters and settings, and organizing my corkboards. Changing arrangements is often as easy as dragging-and-dropping and there are several ways to arrange and tag items in the “binder” (aka, the file manager on the left side), either by icon or color or both.

Scrivener Characters

I’m not sure if the Compile or Formatting features will work for me, yet—I’ll report on those when the time comes—but by the time I’m finished, I’ll have a wonderful Book Bible for Odd Duck.  That’s worth the full licensing fee, right there.

One of the best features so far is the split screen.  While I was getting screenshots for this post, I ended up doing a bit of spontaneous editing between two documents—couldn’t help myself.

Scrivener Editing

The lock screen is also pretty handy, I won’t lie—the split screens got a little . . . flippy . . . before I learned to lock the main one down.  That’s all on me, though, and clearly, Scrivener was prepared for my bad eyesight and subsequent bouts of spasmodic clicking.

On sound advice from a friend (hi, Christina!),  I installed Dropbox on my desk computer and my laptop this morning, so I can easily write at my usual haunts without worrying about synching versions or, heaven forfend, copying over the wrong $#!&% one, as I have been known to do.

Or forgetting/washing/misplacing my flash drive.

The only trouble I’m having at the moment is that Scrivener, logically enough, doesn’t understand the common Microsoft commands (undo, redo, spelling, thesaurus, replace, em-dashes, etc.) I’ve hardwired into my brain.  But as soon as I figure out how to customize the toolbar for those, I’m golden.

I’m sure there will be a few glitches along the way, but so far, so good.  Basically, I’ve gone from this:


To this:

Scrivener CorkboardAnd that’s a definite improvement.

The Wild Librarian Goes Migratory

Wild Librarian

In honor of National Library Week, I quit my job.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

After fifteen years in the genealogy and local history mines, I’ve moved out of the archives and into the sunlight of general Reference.

Literally—my old department was in the lower level of the central branch, with no windows and only a couple of vents to circulate all the leather dust  spores of history historical ambiance.  THe staff there have dubbed themselves The Mushroom People.

Vitamin D and fresh(er) air aren’t the only changes in my library life.

I’ll be handling InterLibrary Loans and homework help instead of historical architectural surveys and genealogy charts.  I’ll be running up lists of read-alikes instead of indexing newspapers and compiling data.  Writing quick, cheerful review posts instead of  historical snapshots with thorough source citations—lest someone call to complain that I made it sound like one of our city’s founding fathers had two children with his stepdaughter.*  I’ll be swapping recalcitrant microfilm reader/printers for stubborn meeting room projectors.

And instead of in-depth research for a few patrons, I’ll be supplying ready reference answers for, well, all of ’em.

On the whole, it’s  like trading complicated surgery for triage, but with more readers’ advisory.**

It’s also like leaving an established household for the migratory life.

My current schedule has me working at all of our branches throughout the week.  I don’t have a cubicle anymore, I have drawers and shared workstations.

This is in no way a complaint; now that my job isn’t dependent on a single reference collection in a single building, I won’t need all that space.

Unfortunately, this meant that fifteen years of accumulated stuff had to be sorted through and condensed into three small desk drawers.

It took the better part of a week, but I managed to transform this:

Organized Mind--Left

and the six square feet of space behind the camera, into this:***



Clean Desk 2

I may have left this space less cluttered than when I moved in, and marginally cleaner.  The desk part, I mean—there’s a reason you aren’t seeing the floor.

The Wesson Children’s Art Gallery was taken down, tchotchkes and coffee cups (all full of pens and pencils and pennies) were wrapped in bubble wrap borrowed from acquisitions and put in empty Girl Scout cookie cartons^ to take home, extraneous desk accessories—twenty-three library pencils, seven rulers, a stapler, two pairs of scissors, a box of obsolete computer cards, three nail files, a box of decorative pushpins, and a lot of etcetera—were distributed with great pomp and ceremony, and several reams of papers were examined and dealt with.

I might have teared up a little.  You know, from the dust.

The essence of my librarianship—by which I mean the three folders holding employee contracts, certifications, handbooks, my Short Story Binder, and my cache of individual caffeinated acai-blueberry drink mix packets—is now in a single drawer at the Favored Branch.

I have thirty days—twenty nine, now—to decide if I can handle the vagaries of life as a migratory disseminator of information.

Bring it.


* Someone did.  Because I did.  Because it’s totally true.

**Not that there’s anything wrong with my old job, or I wouldn’t have enjoyed doing it for so long.  I’m sure I’ll miss it, especially my lovely and snarktastic co-workers.  But . . . it was time to make a change, before I started phoning it in.

***Minus the green document stand.  It’s mine and it’s staying mine.

^This is either a metaphor or a microcosm for my life.



Signs of an Organized Mind

Let’s do a logic puzzle:


A messy desk is supposed to be the sign of an organized mind.

Librarians are supposed to be really good at organization.

Blogs offer insights into the workings of the writer’s mind.

I am the writer for this particular blog.

I am also a librarian.

If these things are true, then:

Is my workspace messy or organized?

Is my mind messy or organized?

Time’s up.

Yeah—trick question:

Organized Mind--Left

Featuring forms, photocopies, legal pads, thank you notes, an Easter Card, part of a photo shrine to my kids, one of several mugsful of writing instruments (not pink feather pen), a small glimpse of a panic button (behind the dandelion sphere), various tchotchkes, my container o’ small pointy office supplies, my new bottle of germkiller, and my Halloween costume.

Organized Mind-Right

Yes, that’s Joss Whedon, framing a scene from my future biopic, as Periwinkle the Frost Fairy waits for me to refill my travel mug.

‘Cause all librarians know that there are many different classification systems out there, and that the definition of organized is perhaps more subjective than most people want to believe.

So there.

Behold, the inspiration for this post* and my go-to justification for the state of my workspace, from a man who once called the Dean’s Office at Princeton University to ask for his own address, because he got lost walking home from campus:

Cluttered Einstein

What’s on YOUR mind today?


*Not entirely true.  I was actually inspired to write this post because, after owning my smartphone for a year and a half, I finally learned how to send photos from it to my e-mail account (in my defense, the settings had gone all wonky and the guy from the Verizon place had to unwonk them first . . .though it did take about half a year of nagging gentle reminders from Watson and my husband to get me to take it in) and for the first couple of days I took pictures of everything.   And then a friend sent me the Einstein thing just as I needed a post, which just goes to show that serendipity isn’t a bad basis for one’s organization system after all.  See?

Ahem and Woo-hoo!

Okay, first, this is for glasseye, who accused me of being one of those people who organizes my tupperware:

My storage container shelves.

And now you know why I had to stop laughing first.

Tidy kitchen cabinets are a sign of a . . . well, heck, I’ll never know.

But I’m hoping that if I think of my WIP’s bible as one of my writer’s nests trapped between portable covers—and maybe divided into sections—I’ll have half a chance of keeping it up.

And now back to our regularly cobbled-together post:

You’ll never guess what I did today!

I took mandatory defensive driving training** in a decommissioned squad car! With a police department rep in the passenger’s seat! In three inches of new-fallen snow!

And I passed.   In fact, the instructor told me that my control of the car was impressive.

So impressive that it took his precise directions* to get the car to slide enough on the designated ice field so I could show him I could handle a skid—it seems I’m as psychologically incapable of deliberately losing control of a car as an arachnophobe is of choosing to snog a tarantula.

Good to know.

The only thing that stuck me was the parallel parking, which I haven’t done in roughly 24 years and don’t plan on doing again—especially when I’m driving a full-sized Crown Vic instead of my bite-sized Honda. But he only had to talk me through it once, and the second time I managed to get it within eighteen inches of the curb.

Proof of victory:

Now . . . I wonder if the PD would let me audit their firearms training? 


*”Floor it! BRAKE! TURN NOW!! Good! Now steer into the—oh, you did.”

**City employees are supposed to take refreshers every five years, but this is the year the city noticed that the library staff was also driving city vehicles on city time. I’m not saying that someone got a speeding ticket while driving the library van . . . but it wasn’t me.