Monday, August 19, 2019

The Life-Changing Magic of Procrastination

A post by Mary Fan
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer who is voluntarily tidying up must be in the throes of procrastination.

I’m currently on the hook for about five writing projects – meaning they’re attached to deadlines and promised release dates. Which of course is why I decided that now is the perfect time to attempt to de-disaster-ify my apartment, which had reached landfill levels of entropy. I’m pretty sure the last time I saw the floor of my closet was sometime in 2017. Meanwhile, I’d overloaded my bookshelf to such an extent that I was pretty sure that any day, it would collapse on top of me, leading to my untimely demise (which I can’t have… with all these projects, I don’t have time to perish!).

As a small press/indie author who often goes on the road to promote books at conventions and such, I’ve always kept copious copies of my own books. This matter compounded when I decided to self-publish Starswept as a custom-printed hardback with silver foil lettering… meaning I had to order in bulk (WORTH IT). Being a city dweller, I don’t have a whole lot of space. And paying for a storage unit seems both extravagant and inconvenient (let’s face it, even if I were willing to spring for one, I’d be too lazy to actually get my butt over there to grab books every time I had a show). My solution? Stack everything in a corner. Which worked well on a practical level, but also invited mess because, I mean, it was just a bunch of boxes in the corner. Of course that meant it was also a dumping ground for all the random crap I couldn’t be bothered with finding a spot for, right? The results:

Now, I’m notoriously oblivious to my surroundings. Comes with being the kind of person who usually lives in her own head (I also have comically low levels of body awareness… who knows what any limb is doing at any given time). So I allowed the entropy to grow and grow, hardly noticing it was there at all.

Until one day it hit me that I was basically living in a warehouse, and that this was not ideal. I’m not sure what exactly triggered this revelation. Probably procrastination, to be honest… I become far more aware of what’s going on around me when I’m trying to get out of my head and away from my writing projects (usually because they’re due soon but I don’t want to deal with them). And also because I didn’t wish to perish in a tragic book-related accident when my overloaded shelves gave up on me.

So I decided that instead of keeping stacks of cardboard boxes in a corner, I’d put my stock on bookshelves and use plastic storage containers to tote them to and from shows. I’d already planning on getting clear plastic boxes for Gen Con anyway, since we always have to bring so many books, and figuring out what’s in every opaque cardboard box is a nightmare. Also, cardboard likes to slide around, meaning when you try to stack said boxes on a cart, they have the nasty habit of slipping off and spilling your poor, vulnerable paperbacks all over the exhibit hall floor (despite the most heroic efforts of your bungee cords).

Anyway, this may all have remained a fanciful idea if a local friend hadn’t decided to relocate across the country – meaning she was about to pack up her entire life. She asked if anyone had extra boxes, and I was like, “Oh, honey, I have all the boxes you’ll ever need.” I just had to get the books out of them first.

So I went to the IKEA website and ordered the biggest bookshelf that would fit in my apartment (which was actually two tall bookshelves smashed together). The original plan was to stick them in the box corner to carry book stock and then order another shelf for my extra reading books. But I had the sneaking suspicion that things wouldn’t go quite according to plan, so I held off on the latter part of that… Plan B was to put the giant shelf in my bedroom (where my bookcase was), move the bookcase to the box corner, and then figure out what to do from there. Good thing I had Plan B, because the giant shelf was ONE MEASLY INCH too wide to fit between the wall and the low-ish lighting fixture.

Taking all the books off my shelf, unboxing all those copies of my own books, dragging 4 heavy bookshelves around my apartment, and then moving literally a thousand pounds worth of tomes around was no fun at all. But I’m rather pleased with how it all turned out:

Of course, now that I’ve run out of books to rearrange, I need to find a new way to procrastinate. I’d still like to see my closet floor…


Karissa Laurel said...

Do you think, "I need to see Mary's new book shelves" is a valid excuse that my family will accept when I tell them why I need another NY trip?

Mary Fan said...


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