The Writerly Desktop

I stumbled upon this article in the Guardian the other day. It mostly stood out to me because they were interviewing the always intelligent and always fascinating, Tom McCarthy. He was staying in NYC this past spring and making the rounds at our various well-respected literary venues as a guest speaker.

The Guardian chose him to be their first writer for their inaugural series called, “My Desktop.”

In the first of a new series where writers show us around their working lives by revealing what’s on their computer desktops, Tom McCarthy explains how technology is woven into his creative life.

Tom’s desktop (click image to enlarge)

The way McCarthy is as both a person and a writer is completely exuded through his personal work space (e.g., computer). It made me think about my own computer desktop. I differ with him over having a blank slate. I like an image and I like it to be high quality. On my normal desktop, I have an image of Ganesha–the Hindu god of success and remover of obstacles–and on my netbook, I keep a photo I took in the Czech Republic of a castle. Anytime I start up the little fella, my memories of that beautiful and inspiring country come back to me. On my desktop, I also have randomly placed folders, which is unexplainable because I am a tidy person; I think my rationale is if they are haphazardly placed, I look more productive. Also, “sticky notes” to remind me what to do (my brain is usually being pulled in all different directions!). For the first time, I realized that my computer desktop is a microcosm of how I function as a writer.

click to enlarge


  1. That was an interesting article. I’m with McCarthy, I like my MacBook desktop to be clean and clutter free with an abstract background that doesn’t distract and almost no folders or other shortcuts except in the dock which is tiny and off to the side so it doesn’t intrude. Too many things on my desktop make me feel stressed and frantic and are so very distracting.

  2. I thought that it slowed the computer down by having too many folders on your desktop. I guess I only got half the story there. I will now put more folders on my desktop as you seem to have plenty on your desktop. Does it slow down your computer?

  3. I’ve heard the same thing before and only recently started putting files on my desktop–seems fine (knock on wood). I also don’t use my computer for much beyond internet and word processing, so I don’t have any bulky programs running either.

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