I’ve decided writers’ homes reflect how their writing projects are going. Except for scrubbing the house because company is coming, my every day Martha Stewart barometer is more related to deadlines and writers’ block than to a mythical cleaning standard.
Our first home was a tidy ranch on a street with other ranches and split levels. My neighbors’ homes were always spotless. I noticed the ladies cleaned constantly to prevent dirt. If you vacuum and dust every day, how can you experience the “before” and “after” joy of homemaking? Since I never ascribed to prophylactic cleaning, my home is always a surprise — spotless one day, a disaster another. Why does no one drop by unexpectedly when the house is spick-and-span?
I would love someone to visit when my writing hits a wall. After staring at the blank page on my monitor for five minutes, I decide I need to clean the refrigerator. One clean fridge later, the thought of drafting that article inspires me to dust, and then remove my dog’s nose art from the lower part of the patio door. Perhaps I’ll figure out how to write that scene in my novel while I do the laundry.
Anything but write. Result: spotless house but nothing written. However, when the Muse parks herself in my brain, the house could fall apart and I wouldn’t notice. I’m in the zone. Words are flying. I’m going to make that deadline for sure. So what if I can write my first draft in the dust on my dresser? Why vacuum today and pick up a few specks here and there when I can vacuum up so much more tomorrow — after I’ve edited my article?
PBS recently featured Toni Morrison — American novelist, essayist, book editor, and professor. As I listened to her, I realized she would agree with me in a New-York-minute. She told how one day, while wearing her editor hat, she made a to-do list. She said it was quite long, and asked herself, “of everything on this list, what is most important to accomplish today” Only two tasks stood out; they were caring for her family and writing. Not vacuuming, pulling weeds, or grocery shopping.
A woman after my own heart. Now I have permission from the Queen of Wordsmithing to write through the mess. My advice to anyone considering marrying a writer: learn to ignore your environment or DIY.