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From the Desk of … Emily O’Neill

From the Desk of … Emily O’Neill

This week I asked artist and writer Emily O’Neill to share a picture of her workspace and answer the question: Messy or clean?

a picture of Emily O'Neill's desk

Messy, without question. Cleaning makes me lose things. All kinds of things. I’ve never been able to work at a desk. The surface just gets covered in all kinds of junk and I end up on the floor. Which isn’t bad necessarily, except that once I’m on the floor there are very few spatial boundaries and I start taking over multiple rooms of the house. Not being able to work at a desk forced me into bed, and that’s where I’ve stayed. There’s enough space to surround myself with everything I need (books, snacks, music, analog & digital drafting tools, etc) plus the added prize of being able to nap surrounded by what I’m thinking about, which means my dreams end up doing some of the work too. My workspace as pictured is how a writing day starts, and by the end there will be mountains of blankets and sweaters thrown around plus a bag from the bagel place around the block where I get BLTs and various water glasses and snack plates from the kitchen and throw in some knitting or crochet project if I need a break from writing and also my iPad in case of video chat breaks and sometimes even full blown painting and collage projects, which were my love before I ever wrote. I rarely make my bed, shed clothes and books in a tight ring around me before sleep, if I don’t fall asleep mid-sentence either reading, watching, or writing a thing. Whatever I want access to, even thought-wise, needs to be next to me always. I have an elaborate pile system that, when disturbed, keeps me from making anything for weeks. I’ve been making nests my whole lifemounding up the objects that I most want to talk to and then steeping in that nest until it suffocates. Then I dismantle and start again. – Emily O’Neill
Erin Dorney
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About The Author

Erin Dorney

Erin Dorney is the poetry editor for Third Point Press and lives in Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter at @edorney or learn more at

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