Anatomy of a Desktop

photo blog

Like everybody, there are times when my desktop is more clean than others. This, what you see here, is about medium-cluttered for me. I’m almost finished with my first draft of the next novel, so all of those documents are tucked neatly into the appropriate folder. Because this is a project I’m constantly aware of, I don’t need the desktop to remind me about it. There are other projects, tasks, responsibilities, etc., however, that I am more likely to space, so I shelve them up and down the desktop in an effort to be irritated enough by their presence that I’ll take care of them. That is to say, I’m not irritated by the projects themselves but by the fact that I haven’t finished them yet.

The background image is a rare indulgence. Usually, I use only an all-white or all-black background. I think of my computer more as a tool than a toy, so I tend not to litter it up with baubles and blinky things.

So, curious about the uninteresting desktop of a working author? Here’s your legend (with commentary!):

  1. Program Shortcuts. I don’t like program shortcuts unless it’s a program that I use a lot. If I use it ALL the time, it goes in the quick-launch bar. If I use it MOST of the time, it gets a shortcut. If I rarely use it, it has no business pissing me off on the desktop.
  2. A short story that needs editing. This one is actually a cannibalized version of a fair portion of my first novel (the one I later decided I didn’t care for anymore and therefore had my agent remove from the market). I’ve been converting some of the material into something that more accurately represents my current interests. It’s tough. I drag it out every six months or so and mess with it. It’s been about six months.
  3. The liner-notes information for a cd cover I’m designing. I used to do a fair bit of cover or poster design, so when my friends, The Jakeys, needed help with some design, I volunteered to dust of the old skillz.
  4. Other people’s manuscripts, proofs, or books that I need to read and comment upon/plug. No comment.
  5. An interview with yours truly—in the works. This is only here to remind me that the thing isn’t finalized yet. The interview’s complete, but the interviewer and I are still bouncing minor edits back and forth.
  6. The family budget document. This is what it sounds like. I’m a bit obsessed with receipts, so I collect them and then enter them into this document every few days. I like to know exactly where my money is going.
  7. Subutai. Where I keep the raw files for The Mongoliad, when they come to me. Mark Teppo is an old buddy of mine, so I was fortunate enough to be brought on board the Mongoliad team back in the production stage, when they were lining up copy editors. I get to read fiction by Teppo, Greg Bear, and Neal Stephenson before any of the rest of you—want to know how to network in the writing business? Learn how to copy edit and then do it for free for a few magazines for a few years. You’ll make a lot of friends.
  8. My wife’s folder—for her teaching documents and such. This used to be her computer, so I owe her this much. I have a habit of burning through laptop motherboards like magnesium flares, and when I burned up the last one, we weren’t in a position to buy another. She shared this machine with me until her new employer issued her a MacBook Pro. Now this is all mine!
  9. The magic “verizon” folder. It appeared there when I installed our DSL, and it doesn’t like being moved, so there it stays. Really, I’m just not interested in what’s inside there. It has some auto log-in information for the account homepage, which I use to pay the bill. I could probably delete it (the net would still work), but I’d really rather not spend an entire afternoon messing with IP addresses and DNS entries after messing something up.
  10. The critical hit I almost never roll. Yes, I’m a gamer. Currently, I’ve got a human warlock named Benjamin Go. He’s a rabid socialist with a proclivity for fire, and he intends to bring down the monarchy as part of a people’s revolution! Cool, yes, but not so hot with the criticals.