A bunch of us decided to spend three days at a quilt-retreat place about 25 miles up the road. Originally it was supposed to be an organized workshop but that fell through, and we just brought whatever we were working on. I toted my sewing machine in the hopes of getting started on a new major quilt, complete in my head but not even the first piece of fabric sewed in the flesh. But first, I had housekeeping to do.
Since I have been doing daily collage for 15 months, I have accumulated many pictures and bits of interesting paper, mostly cut from newspapers and magazines. At first the pile of unused clippings lived in an envelope, then it graduated to a box. Several months ago I started to sort them into categories in file folders, and the number of folders increased, as did their girth.
About two months ago I rejiggered my office, turning my desk into collage central and storing the file folders upright. But following a marathon reading jag in which I disposed of a month of old newspapers, the resulting clippings had not yet been filed. I brought the pile of clippings and the folders with me to the retreat and spent the first day sorting and filing.
In a way it seemed silly to sign up for a retreat -- a dedicated time away, without distractions, in which to make big progress on a big project -- and spend it on filing. But perhaps filing is exactly the kind of big project that needs dedicated time without distractions.
When you're working on a big project, the adrenaline helps keep you in the studio. But when you have four hours of filing, and not enough room on the desk to make ten separate piles, it's oh so easy to be distracted. Especially when your computer is three feet away and the chair seems to want to roll off to the left and check email or play sudoku.