Office 8: The Bookcase

Today was not a good day, so I put off doing the boxes again and concentrated on the bookshelves at the end of the office. I used to have a half one there, only waist high, but I like the privacy the bigger one gives me so it’s staying. It just can’t stay like this:


So once I pushed the boxes away (yes, I know it would be easier if I did the boxes first, but those boxes are awful, those boxes are plotting against me, I’m convinced of it, bleah on the boxes), I started pulling books off the shelf and determining if they’d stay because they’re research (in which case they go into labeled bankers boxes) or go because I was done with them (anywhere but here). There was also minimal tchtochke clean-up; my friends think action figures are hysterical which is why I have two Spikes (Val), a male nurse (Susan Wiggs), Jane Austen (Robin LaFevers), and Anya Bunny (okay, I bought that one). I also have a nice lot of Corpse Bride figures, but that’s research for Always Kiss Me Goodnight so it doesn’t count. And don’t get me started on the Wonder Woman stuff I accumulated with Don’t Look Down; it’s all in the TV room with my comic book stuff anyway. Do they make a Hellboy action figure? They must. Actually the one I want is Liz Sherman. “You should be running.” I want that on a t-shirt.

Where was I? Right, the bookcase. What became apparent fairly quickly was that this was the place to put the research books for all the stuff I’m working on or thinking about working on. But since you can see the bookcase from both the hall and the office, one side was always going to have the back of books (see above) plus I needed a lot more space than lining the books up on the shelves was going to give me. Which meant putting the books in banker’s boxes. Except banker’s boxes, even the white ones, are ugly. I thought briefly about getting colored ones, but Staples didn’t have them and I didn’t feel like paying $40 a box for leather ones from some pricey upscale office store, so I went to Target and bought contact paper. There wasn’t a lot of choice, but they had a pattern with spots (I love spots, also checks and spirals) in brown that was close to the floor and blue that was close to color I used in the hall. So I bought it and came home and covered ten bankers boxes in spotted contact paper.

This was important because today was Wednesday, NYT day. Next Sunday, the NYT will report that Agnes is #24, but today we found out that the following Sunday, Agnes is not on the list. Bleah. Well, I found out, Bob is somewhere on the road in the Explorer, assuming it hasn’t blown up on him, crossing the country in his quest for the Pacific Northwest. And inner peach, probably. He likes driving alone. The only problem is when he falls asleep and run into a tree in Georgia, but he should be long out of Georgia by now. Actually, I don’t think he went through Georgia. So he’s driving in blissful ignorance, full of peach, and I’m sitting on the floor putting contact paper on banker’s boxes because it’s a very mindless process and I need a little mindless right now, although my pulse is racing from the half quart of peanut butter cup ice cream I ate after Meg called. I would have eaten more, but that’s all there was in the carton.

Okay, contact paper on banker’s boxes is not high tech, nor is it easy to get smooth, but I like it. The only problem is that all this light blue which goes great with the hall does not go with the black and red window seat. At the moment this is not bothering me, but it will, it will. I’m a Virgo. We obsess.

So a few words about the legitimacy of what I did today. All those boxes are full of books. They are not full of all the books that were there, so some of those books got moved to the hall with the rest of the bookcases. This smacked to me of merely moving piles around without cleaning, except that i took books out of the bookcases there to fill the research boxes. So I think I’m good. It’s a judgment call.

And the whole thing was really enlightening because while I had one box for Emmeline (Always Kiss Me Goodnight) and one box for Shar (Dogs and Goddesses) and even one box for Petal who may never get written, I had five boxes for Nadine. Which leads me to believe that the Girls in the Basement have big plans for her. The other two boxes? One’s Emily Jessica, the tentative name for the heroine of the children’s story I’m tentatively writing (probably not) and the other is books on graphic novels because I’m pretty sure I want to do one. So all my research in one place is a very good idea. And I think I like the contact paper. If not, it was only ten bucks.

So the bookcase is done, and now it looks like this:


Which means there’s only one part of the office left.

Kill me now.

51 thoughts on “Office 8: The Bookcase

  1. Wow! That is way cool! I love that, wait a minute I’m going up for another look … yep, that’s the neatest idea. You are so damn smart, it looks like a dividing three panel screen, or it will when you put two more boxes in.

  2. Poor Jenny. Don’t you hate it when the floors plot against you? The floor of my bedroom in high school had it out for me big time, but I was unable to convince my parents that it was a conspiracy on the floor’s part and not me avoiding the problem. And, I don’t think the obsessing thing is a Virgo thing. I obsess like nobody’s business and I’m a Libra. Hmm. Your birthday’s in September, right? Maybe it’s a September thing.

  3. Yep, a true Wednesday. We may need to break out daiquiris as we watch Tivo’d Stewart and Colbert.

    I wish the NYT news had been better – Agnes is a damn fine book. But now you have these damn fine bookcases! Way cool.

  4. Ugh NYT news.

    They make lots of Hellboy action figures of various sorts – is there a version/look you prefer?

    Graphic novels seem to be getting hotter in the mainstream as a great way to both show and tell. Have you played with Comic Life yet? It’s turned into a whole different way for me to outline/block out a story. Dormant screenwriting part of my brain coming back to life or something.

  5. I played with it a little, but not a lot, just enough to know I liked it. But I’d concentrate on the writing first, learning the form and how the genre works. My pal Alisa Kwitney used to be an editor at Vertigo, so she knows all.

    But no more action figures. I don’t know what to do with the ones I have now.

  6. Agnes IS a damned fine book. (I want to rant here, but I’m not a ranting out loud sort of person, so just know I’m privately bitching up a storm on your behalf re: NYT lists and the vagaries of publishing.)

    Your shelves look nice.

  7. I am truly shocked that Agnes didn’t hit the NYT list this week. WTF? (Oops — can I swear-via-initials here?)

    On a lighter note… am I the only one who thought the first photo was the “after”? Because I thought the bookcase looked pretty organized beforehand. Now, of course, it’s a thing of beauty (love the dots!). It doesn’t look like you can see the windowseat and the boxes at the same time, so I’m not sure it matters that they don’t go together. But if it bugs you too much, just get a different contact paper for one half of the boxes — have the dots face the hall and the other side face the windowseat (maybe a band of ribbon glued over the line of demarcation). If you can’t find contact paper you like, just glue on some pretty wrapping paper.

    Re: the floor. There’s no law that says you have to sort through stuff IN the office (especially big piles of paper). When I have a huge pile to sort like that, I often move it in front of the TV and do it during commercials (or during boring parts of whatever I’m watching). I keep a trash can and a shredder next to me, and all the keep stuff is sorted into appropriate piles. It’s much easier to just pick up a pile that’s all getting filed in the same place. Mind you, I’m sure it takes a little longer in the long run. But the task doesn’t fill me with overwhelming dread that way. Just a thought.

  8. Those boxes on the shelves are so pretty! You should put two empty ones in the empty spaces just so it all matches. But of course then you would be tempted to fill in with things.

  9. I love this series and admire your perserverance.
    Last time we moved house the guys who came to pack our stuff declared that there are two type of folks in the world [ and they had seen it all];
    1. HOARDERS [ eg. ten broken toasters which only need to be fixed. Junior school books in boxes not opened for last 40 years but no way are they going to be thrown. Couples arguing about a room full of warped and broken Victorian furniture while the removal van has the engine running, and the people who now own this house are knocking on the door waiting to move in. etc etc.]
    2. CHUCKERS [ UK term but you get the idea. If you have not used it for a year, out it goes. Zero clutter]
    They may well be correct.
    I am a Virgo. And a chucker. And luckily, married to another chucker.
    And therefore would take HUGE satisfaction from creating a nice neat working environment out of accumulated treasures.
    Bookcases are always intensely personal things which draw me like a magnet. One of my family does not read. And there are no bookcases IN THE WHOLE HOUSE! Spooky.
    Work/research bookcases re personal reading fiction bookcases. Interesting idea. I use box files. Labelled of course so that the labels are aligned on the shelf. [ Virgo]
    The spotted paper is genius and fun.
    You do realise that any psychiatrists reading this blog would be using it for teaching purposes?
    Brave girl. More please. Love it. Love your work.

  10. I love blue and brown together. It’s funny, but I’m bidding on some light blue Russel Wright cups and saucers on eBay, which I plan to use with my chocolate brown Italian modern teapot, basically same era.

    So what books do you recommend for learning about graphic novels? I asked Neil Gaiman about it once – a Brit friend put me in touch, but he recommended I just write the story and not worry about the illustrations. But I wanted to do that part, too. Don’t you?

  11. Obviously, Agnes has dropped of the NYT list because of a keying error, so to hell with them. It is a Very Good Book, with a Beautiful Cover.

    My boxes are still on my dining table. My husband keeps complaining. I point out that we have a (smaller) dining table in the conservatory but he will not be consoled.

  12. Now me, I’d have bought some planks and and put a back on the bookcase. That way I get extra wall space and the backs of the books aren’t visible any more, plus the books become the problem of the next room not the study.

  13. Good work – again, Jenny
    I just might steal the banker boxes and contact paper idea – bookcases in my office have plastic milk crate-type boxes with everything hanging out. Even plain old banker boxes would be better.

    I’ve got to become more organized – got to – was searching for something last night – never found it. ;-(

    Yep – need to be more organized

  14. Pah! A pox on the NYT list. What do they know? Agnes is brilliant. And way to go on the shelves and contact covered boxes. This 12 day thing is going to be shorter than you planned, I’m sure.

    And, subliminally inspired by your amazing office transformation, I succumbed. Today I went (I fought the urge but was sabotaged by the spouse who said ‘what are you still here for. Go and buy them!’ which is completely out of character for him I might add) to our local Stationery Warehouse and bought new bookcases. They were only $15 (NZ!) each. Okay so they’re small, 42 cm wide (about 15 inches I think) and 80 cm high (just under a yard?) with three shelves, but side by side on the spare desk (previously known as the junk dump zone) they’re perfect. So thank you Jenny, my office salutes you. Oh, as does my cat, Dobbie, who has already pegged the bottom left hand shelf as hers.

  15. Ooh, just wanted to say one more thing. During your talk on collage in New Zealand you mentioned glue that makes your collage bits like post it notes. When I heard that I thought, man, we’re never going to have something like that here in NZ, I wonder if I can order it in from the US. And while I was at the Stationery Warehouse I found it!

    Have to admit that I did get a funny look from the fellow walking past me when I did… Must have been something in the way I shrieked with glee and snatched a couple of sticks off the shelf.

  16. “So what books do you recommend for learning about graphic novels? I asked Neil Gaiman about it once – a Brit friend put me in touch, but he recommended I just write the story and not worry about the illustrations. But I wanted to do that part, too. Don’t you?”

    I understand that Alan Moore draws things out a lot for the artist as well as writing, but some people just write. It depends on you. The only thing is – don’t do both unless you want to be exhausted!

  17. Jenny, when you start to obsess about the conflicting color of the office side of the boxes, you can always go out and find some black and red contact paper, and just do the one side you see from the office.

  18. Love the contact paper on those boxes and your bookcase looks great. Maybe you can set small goals for the floor instead of taking it on all at one time. You can do it!

    Sorry to hear about the NYT list. Agnes is amazing. I just finished my fourth reread and still get a tingly feel good vibe every time.

    Nothing by good times ahead!

  19. Wow! What a cool idea with the contact paper on the boxes. It gives such a great fresh look to the whole bookcase. Great job! You’ll be ready to tackle those floor boxes in no time.

  20. Once again, an amazing transformation – not just neat but creative and fun. I was wearing dots yesterday – navy and white, which (with some pink, which I wasn’t wearing)is just about the summeriest thing I can think of.

    I did NO tidying (except the dinner dishes), because I fell asleep at about 8 p.m. Seriously. Probably because I woke up at 2, because I fell asleep the previous evening at 8:30. I really need to get my sleep schedule under control. This morning, I woke up at 2:30. I guess that’s progress.

    Maybe there weren’t many Agnes sales because everyone sold out last week – as we know they did in Dayton? And they’re awaiting the re-order to come in?

  21. Bah. New York Times. What do they know. Agnes is currently sitting on the bookshelf in the office awaiting reading. This hasn’t been a good week for reading and I know I’ll want to read it cover to cover in one go.

    I love the contact paper, it looks great. Take the floor one box at a time. When you’ve cleared out one box and put the stuff from it where it belongs, slice the tape at the bottom of the box and fold it down. That keeps me from moving things from one box to another.

    What’s that on the upper left of the bookcase? Don’t you love complete strangers asking questions about your stuff?

  22. Jenny – last time I was in Lowe’s – in the wallpaper aisle, they had these “contact” type wall decorations for teeanager rooms. They had Large (banker box – end size) red and black circles and squares.

    Agnes is a GREAT book. One of the greatest covers and dust jackets ever. And, I’m re-reading it again tonight.

    Office Wench Cherry – thanks for the idea about breaking down the boxes. Much bettte than stacking them in the garage and making another “project”.

  23. Love the dots! And here’s hoping Nadine’s coming back.

    I’m really sorry to hear about Agnes. It’s an amazing book. I thought it was stronger in many ways than Don’t Look Down (which was very good, but Agnes exceeded it). Here’s hoping the long tail keeps it going and going as word of mouth gets around. I’m selfishly hoping it’ll have long legs so that there’ll be a Crusie/Mayer book #3.

  24. So you think it should be either nine or twelve boxes? I like asymmetry, but I can move one of them. I wanted the top row open so that I could light through the hall from the living room. Hmmmm.

    Top left? On the very top, it’s the Mexican ceramic folk art mermaid. On the middle top shelf, it’s the copper colored purse I bought in Little Tokyo, which I bought because it matched my favorite shoes and nothing else does and then figured I’d never carry it. Surprise, it’s currently my favorite purse. It’s pretty over the top, covered in three inches circles like scales, but I love it.

    As for the NYT, that was yesterday. We do not dwell. You start dwelling on publishing, there’s nothing left but pharmaceuticals and drink. So I see a Diet Coke and some boxes in my future.

  25. Asymmetry? Are you mad? That alone would give me something to obsess about, but since it’s your space and not mine, I guess you can organize it your way. 😉 Although I would have been tempted to leave a box or two empty for room to grow. Yet again, I am in awe of your creativity.

  26. Light is always a good idea. Asymmetry? At first I thought ‘no way’. Then looked again. Nah, still no way for me. I’d go with 9, light and symmetry!
    Hey and I found my Jennifer and Jason Book! This is great…you clean your office and missing things show up in mine! Thanks.

  27. Blowing a huge raspberry at the NYT list. I love Agnes. I’m reading it now for the second time. As the body count increases, so does my laughter. Your book helped me through the tough time of losing my old, beloved dog. I know that’s info dump for a blog comments section, but you love dogs, so I figured you’d understand.

  28. How about a sponge dot stamp with some acrylic paint, reds over the brown and black over the blue?

    Also, why not attack just one box a day. If it throws you off the twelve days, who cares? Says I, who although I really admire your commitment to cleaning up your space, cannot quite get the energy to make my own pledge to organize.

    It looks really good, Jenny.

  29. The Nadine comment just registered. Nadine from Faking It? Oh, I hope the Girls in the Basement follow through on those plans, maybe right after you write Slow Men

  30. Oh, Mary Stella, I’m so sorry. I lost two old cats in the last two years, and I’m looking at two dogs who are next in line (Wolfie is the relative youngster), and I keep thinking that the only drawback to pets is those damn short lifespans. Of course, these guys have been with me for sixteen years, but still. It’s so hard. And I’m so glad Agnes helped. That’s infinitely better than the NYT.

    Actually, it sounds like everybody’s having a rough time, what with Zaza’s flood and the various traumas and stresses I’ve heard of other places. Good month to keep your head down and just keep moving forward.

  31. Okay, I’ll dwell. I’m good at dwelling. (Just one more reason why, when I grow up-Ha!-I need to be more like Jenny.) The NYT is stoooopid. And you know what else? They are stooopid. See? I may never grow up. (And while I can blame it on my nephews for introducing me to that line from “Dexter’s Laboratory,” it’s probably not their fault that I say stooopid way too often. But I digress. As usual.)

    So, I’m thinking that Agnes needs a Street Team. (She’s already got a hitman, and I’m pretty sure whacking people will not increase readership. Although, wahcking them over the head and saying “Read This” might work.) Anyway, I reviewed Agnes on my blog, and, no, my readership is not that big(miniscule, even), but if we all reviewed it and told people how incredibly awesome it was, perhaps we could knock some people over the head with the news that there’s this great book out there and that they should get themselves to the bookstore ASAP.

    Anyway, your office is looking fab, and my cat is meowing at me for some reason-and she NEVER meows-and I’m late for work, so I should go now. But I’m still gonna dwell. It’s what I do.

  32. Agnes is such a great book! How could it slip off the list? Hopefully it’ll bump back up there next week. (if this is possible) No dwelling I know. List shcmist, we love Agnes and we love you guys!

  33. I want to know who’s furry rump is sticking up out of the box pile.

    Mary Stella: ((hugs)) It’s amazing the amount of love that comes packaged in a short life span.

    Courtney: The CherryBombs did our best. We didn’t actually resort to whacking people as they don’t buy many books when they are unconscious; however we perfected the art of the menacing glare.

  34. A pox in the NYT list!!

    Your office looks FABULOUS, Jenny. I’m impressed with how fast you are managing to get it organized. I guess I’m going to have to break down and start organizing my office (and boxes)… sigh… I’ve stuffed things in drawers and boxes for too long now – must get to work.

    As soon as I re-read Agnes – this copy being my very own signed-by-the-authors-’cause-the-CBs-got-it-for-me-in-Dayton, copy! Woohoo.

    Thanks Jenny and Bob!!

  35. Mary Stella, I’m so sorry. It’s always hard to lose a furry family member.

    I grew up on a farm with lots of animals and I’ve loved and lost my fair share and I have to say plants are the way to go. They might not love you back but your heart doesn’t break when they die either.

  36. I don’t know if this would work, if your bookcase is deep enough, but when you mentioned that viewing from both sides, and one side being the backs, well, couldn’t you shelve from both sides? Then there would be no backs. And you’d have more room for your assymetry and maybe to display something in one/some of the vacant openings.

    People shelve their books two-deep all the time, only not in such a useful and accessible way. ;+)

    I’ve been reading Agnes, Jenny. It’s wonderful. You know, I never worry about spoilers with your books because the ride is always so exhilirating. I don’t care if I already know the destination. I especially like Garth. Maybe when he grows up, he can go to Germantown and have a story with…I hate to admit I can’t remember her name…the kid. They’d be a great pair. ;+)

  37. Mary Stella – I, too, am sorry for your loss. I’ve had animals (mostly dogs and horses) all my life, and it has always been so difficult to say good-bye.

  38. If you ever get tired of the (very cute) boxes, you could maybe tack a sheet of wood on the back of the bookcase and paint it white or do a mural on it, although that would stop the light from coming into your office from those top shelves. But at least you wouldn’t see the pages from the other side.

  39. Mary Stella, you have my utmost sympathy. Pets are more than just ‘pets’. They are family.

    Jenny, you are a genuis. The contact paper/banker boxes is a fabulous idea!

    As for the NYT, they suck! Agnes was fabulous. (And that’s all I’ll say!)

  40. Jenny – beautiful contact paper boxes.

    Honeslty, I think you have a great sense of style. I’ll admit, I was a bit worried when I first saw the before pictures. Actually, they hurt my eyes. I’ve very much a “clutter” free kind of gal. But I’m also boring as hell and have no class/style when it comes to decorating.

    You my dear, have a lot of style. Fun style. Inner peach style. It’s also probably very creative and good for your creative brain. I’ve tried to be creative – but it doesn’t work so well for me. Not like that anyway. Like I said, I have no sense of style, with anything. I’m insanly jealous right now. I’m totally amazed by what you have done.

    Will you come to my house and decorate? It’s already “de cluttered”. Target is only a mile away. Really. It will be fun.

    Well poo on the NYT. I’m very partial to Agnes. She helped me through a rough day. I read the book the day I had surgery and well, Agnes made my world bright on a day that could have been depressing as hell. Thank you for that. I re-read it two days later when I ended up with an infection and needed a good distraction. You know, for years I have dressed up as “mommy dearest” for Halloween. This year I think I have to go as Agnes. I love Agnes.

  41. Thank you for the condolences, everyone.

    We all know there is power in the written word. In this case, the power to lift someone’s spirits, make us laugh or give us a few hours of reading respite when we’re in the middle of a tough time.

    I don’t imagine that the New York Times has ever achieved that for anyone, but Agnes and the Hitman did it. I was remiss and didn’t think of blogging about the book but will immediately correct that oversight.

    Thanks again, Jenny and everyone.

  42. First off, poop on the NYT! Agnes rocked and she’ll be back on there. I’ve been telling EVERYONE about it!

    Second, you could get 12 x 12 scrapbook paper for just one end of the box. They have tons of patterns n such.

    Third, what is it with losing pets this year??? I lost my half bassett-half beagle, Scarlett, on July 5 and my friend lost her schnauzer, Holly, two days before that. BTW, Fred made me have good memories of Scarlett. Thank you for that!

  43. I was at the World Con in Yokohama this year, and went to the speech/presentation thingy given by artist Yoshitaka Amano, who also did the (some?) graphic novels with Neil Gaiman. Oh, man, that guy can draw! And when he mentioned his influences, things just popped out of his drawings . . . . His regular stuff is quite nice, but his New York Salad (veggies that come to life) has charmed my socks off. And there were some pictures of a mural he’d done for some building in New York (sorry, I don’t have the souvenir book here) that are simply amazing.

    I think Dogs and Goddesses might make a good candidate for graphic novel-hood. It’d help out the dog-impaired (ie: people who haven’t got a clue what each breed looks like), and of course, you’ve got the bas reliefs.

    But, from your blog, I know your mind works right along those lines, so it’d probably be best to do a single-author work as a graphic novel first. (-: Three collaborators and an artist sounds like a recipe for . . . interesting times.

  44. I shall go forth and vandalize more Target and B&N displays… I actually got into a mild tussle at the B&N as they only kept Agnes out front for three days then relegated her back to the fiction shelves. I was pi**ed!! Gave them the what for. On topic: I dig the contact paper!!

  45. The absolute ONLY new hardcover books I have ever bought (and think somewhere around 40-50 books bought each month) were Don’t Look Down and Agnes And The Hitman.
    And they were worth every penny.
    Although I’m thinking I may need a new copy of Agnes because I went up to visit my mom (she was in Wasilla, Alaska at the time) and she ran off with mine (I am now in the upper Midwest) which makes it hard for ME to reread it!

    Lovely office you’re unearthing, here!
    Er, unboxing?
    Someone help me out…

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