Around the house, there are varying degrees of clean.
- Everyday Functionality (bathrooms and the kitchen)
- Having-people-over Clean (add living and dining room)
- House Guest Spotless (ha, remodel)
I’m learning that it’s kind of the same with the writing life.
“Everyday” housework involves daily routines: load the dishwasher, wipe the counter, towel down the shower, swish the toilet brush. Not my favorites, but they’re built into my schedule. I do them because I like the results.
It’s the same with daily writing. It’s tough to sit down and get started, but the words add up over time. I like the results.
“Having-people-over” cleaning is on an as-needs basis. By the time guests arrive, I always marvel at how much better the house looks. All that was lacking was motivation, that all-important reason to clean.
The writing-life parallel is posting a weekly installment (when I have a story running at Beyond Austen, which I don’t right now). Knowing that people will be reading my chapter spurs me on to cut the dull parts, to tighten things up. As with housework, I need guests — that is to say, a reason to write.
And then there is “house guest” spotless, when guests will live in our home. Time to haul out those projects I’ve been putting off: painting walls, having the carpet cleaned, sprucing up the garden. The quick fix won’t cut it (like, you know, hiding dirty dishes in the oven). These projects are a piece of work, but they’re also a blessing in disguise. It’s a relief to be “forced” to do what was needed all along.
Writing-wise, this is where I am with my manuscript. Readers, like house guests, will be “living” in the world of my book, so it’s time to put things right in there. As with the house, it’s a relief to finally do what was needed all along. Are there missing words? (Yes! I keep finding them!) Orphaned quotation marks? (ditto) Passages that clank instead of sing? One by one, I’m rooting out the messes. The end result is absolutely worth the effort.
Then again, while my book is becoming shiny bright, my house is not. Seriously, editing work is, like, all I have done this weekend! If you drop by, I’ll gladly invite you in for coffee, but don’t look in the oven. I might have stashed some dirty dishes in there!