What’s on your desk?

Do you write at a desk at home, or in a library or coffee shop? On a park bench, or on the beach? Do you snatch odd minutes when you’re at work, utilising your lunch and coffee breaks to scribble something down or work on a difficult plotline? Or do you write at set times, for a set amount of time, always in the same place? I have a notebook by my bed – I also have a pen with a light on the end, which I hoped would mean I could scribble away at the dead of night without disturbing my partner, but unfortunately the light’s on the wrong end so I only succeed in illuminating the ceiling – but these days, most of my writing is directly onto a screen, in my study at home and, apart from a collection of physical rather than virtual reference books, I try to maintain a relatively paperless office, and yet, and yet……
After years of trying to get rid of extraneous bits of stationery, I am left with a distillation of stuff I used to use all the time but which now just collects dust. Though I admit I’m of the Quentin Crisp persuasion when it comes to dust: after the first three years it doesn’t get any worse.
This is not an exhaustive list but these items include:
• Enormous paperclip that is big enough to keep a thesis together but is there for decorative purposes only. It’s bright pink. Somewhat superseded by the
• Stapler. Three at the last count. No staples.
• Block of multi-coloured Post-its. Pretty to look at and, yes, I do use these to jot down bits of plot, characteristics, dialogue etc. It’s simpler and less invasive than opening up a new document. For this I need…
• Pencils. Always there. I used to write longhand, in pencil, emulating Stephen King and hoping that some of his talent would brush off on me. These days, not so much. But I still use them for Sudoku.
• And a Pencil sharpener…. see above. Sadly I no longer own a mechanical sharpener that is mounted on the desk, like the ones you used to see in school.
• Eraser. Those you get on the ends of pencils are never very satisfactory, so mine is a proper hi-polymer plastic job.
• Nail file. I have a tendency to nibble while reading my work back. But typing keeps the fingers occupied.
• Handcream. Does anyone else suffer from ‘shiny hands’ when working at a keyboard? Or is that just me?
• Lip balm, often plain Vaseline, because I constantly lick my lips when I’m really into a story.
• Magnifying glass. From before I got fitted out with proper reading glasses. But it makes me feel like Sherlock Holmes, so it stays.
• Glass globe paperweight. Handy for throwing at the wall in frustration.
There’s also a basket behind my screen which contains other, more mundane writing accoutrements, but as I can’t see them I can pretend they don’t exist.

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