Quarantine has me spending a great deal of time in the home office/library, thanks (many many thanks) to the day job combined with additional writing time. It’s the coldest room in the house so we have a little space heater in there and it’s also, officially “the cat’s room” where he has laid claim to his own chair that’s draped with a blanket and no one else is welcome to use. We’ve spent the last year focused on shaping the room into the cozy, colorful place it is, painting it Dragonfly, building and installing shelves to finally get the full book collection out of the boxes we kept moving from one room to another the first year we lived in the house. (The DIY before/after is documented here.)
Being in the room so much has given cause to touch up the paint in spots, but also several other quarantine-induced hobbies:
Shelved all the books that had been sitting in piles on the floor, first by category, then alphabetical. It goes: adult fiction, then YA, then middle grade, and finally non-fiction. (Quarantine activity time: 2 hours.)
Weed the shelves, pulling books that, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we’re never going to read, and books we’ve read that we’re never going to read again or recommend to friends. Into two giant donation boxes they went, waiting very patiently in the trunk of my car (no, I have not been inspired to clean it, we’re not that desperate for Things to Do) for the libraries (and world) to reopen. (Quarantine activity level: 1 hour.)
Considered the “collectibility” of first editions and signed copies that mingle indiscriminately on the shelves. Went down a rabbit hole on this site and discovered to our great surprise that a few aren’t even worth the paper they’re printed on, while a handful of others are perhaps worth double, or triple, or sometimes ten times their original listed price thanks to the addition of an author’s scribble or the unknown and unintended fact that our copy happens to have a print history line on the copyright page reading “1.” Who knew? What does one do with a book that is, in all likelihood, worth more than my 12-year-old, 150,000-miles, check-engine-light blinking car? For preservation purposes, are we supposed to put them in, like, Ziplock bags? In a dark closet? Do we only handle with archivist gloves in the future? For now, at least, we’ve pulled them with some reverence and have put them on a separate, dignified shelf, awaiting further research. (Quarantine activity level: 3 hours.)
It was fun to go down memory lane and recall how all the signed editions were acquired. Some were gifts. Others, such as Mary Pope Osborn, were authors I vividly recall visiting my elementary school. Some were bookstore author events, such as Meg Cabot and Markus Zusak, or festivals such as Neil Gaiman. There was the time I got to see JK Rowling speak and thanked her for writing Harry Potter. In a similar wander down memory lane, this is how my writing space used to look. Same desk (at least one of them), but very different set up.
The desk has secret drawers (which I discovered currently contain $.06 and a safety pin, for unknown reasons). Perhaps I should stuff my quarantine diary in there, for future generations. The desk itself was a gift from my dad on my eighteenth birthday and I’ve lugged it everywhere I’ve lived since. The framed letter was another gift. It was my very first acceptance letter for my writing, a poem that won a county contest when I was in high school, that he kept and framed as a surprise. I love being surrounded by these reminders of early support and encouragement for my writing.