Tame Space, The Book: Things Your Organizer Doesn't Tell You
Busy lately? Me too. Except I've also been working on a book.
I've been writing, not on the blog recently, but on a book that's been bubbling in the back of my mind since 2014. On my experiences as a personal organizer in New York City. So I'm sorry for not being around the past few months, but it took me a while to balance this project with everything else that goes on in life.
As for the book, it's about topics I can't really cover during an organizing session because:
- We don't really talk in depth about parenting, marriage, gender equality, challenging cultural norms, consumer behavior, environmental sustainability or politics with even close friends so why would I do that when all a client wants is to make their problems go away?
- There is never enough time in one, or even severals sessions, to broach the real sources of clutter in any person's home.
So I leave clients, nice and organized and lighter than before, but never even touching on these topics.
I'm pretty certain some of them are going to go right back to whatever behaviors will lead them to needing me or someone like me again (hopefully me!) in the future. As counterintuitive this seems, I don't really want that for them or for anyone. I like my job, because I like to help people, but the organizing industry in general doesn't sit well with me. (It's complicated, more on that in the book.)
I started research on this book a while back, and finally made a few tentative stabs last spring. I started in one direction with the book and had a few chapters written and then scrapped it for another direction, more memoir and client case studies.
What is particularly hard is trying to find an answer to the many questions I have about why we live they way we do, the rate of consumer consumption, the sheer unhappiness people are driven to feel in their own homes. So I hit the books in 2014, lots of books, lots of articles in the major newspapers, academic articles across the social sciences. Material culture, behavioral economics, cultural anthropology, self improvement/ productivity, you name it, I looked there.
Then it was time to write and for 5 months I couldn't seem to get anywhere. I was neck deep in post its and outlined books.
Frustrated with my own slow progress, I nearly gave up, but this summer I had 10 days alone in my apartment, sans kids and husband, and I rewrote whole chapters, dumped the first structure and rewrote to a much better version now.
This version is better because I am in it. I'm the participant observer (this term from social anthropology and describes a person intensely involved in the lives of people they study) because I am like so many of my clients: a middle class (more or less) consumer with kids who finds that too much of my time is taken organizing the amount of stuff I've amassed in a relatively short amount of time alive. And I, too, want answers and short cuts and organizing advice and I'd like to pay someone to do it with me because otherwise I will never get around to doing it and I don't want to live this way anymore. (Client words, that last sentence, though of course I have thought the same thing at times.)
Much to my surprise, in this new version, it's a pleasure to work on it every day now. I am hoping to be done by the spring of 2017, a deadline I have imposed on myself that may be need to be adjusted based on the usual holiday mayhem, I mean celebrations, that happen in December.
These days I am, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being happy, a solid 7 or 8 from the moment I wake up because the book makes me feel I have a purpose. That's a huge departure from the gal who was on antidepressants 5 years ago. Yup, that was me, before Tame Space came along and I started working again, I was really not in a good place. These days I have a lot more balance, between work and family, friends and alone time, self care and caring for others.
How am I going to keep up the momentum? I'm part of a new writing group that meets weekly and that has been helpful beyond measure in terms of being accountable and feedback. I am using a new tool called Pacemaker to keep track of progress, which fits my personality to a T because I need to see how far along I've come to stay motivated and word counts are the best way for me. I'll be writing more here on the blog as well, detailing the progress of the book and the joys as well as the inevitable bumps along the way.
I hope you'll join me on this new journey.