Writers should never clean house. Why? you ask. Well, for one thing we can’t be trusted. At least I can’t. I’m a writer. I write. If I’m not chained to my computer, banging on my keyboard, I’m writing in my head. Now, I can write in my head while driving to the store or going to a doctor’s appointment. Writing in my head and driving seem to work very well for me. House cleaning and writing in my head? Nope, doesn’t work at all.
Case in point is the time I opened the dishwasher to put in the soap before I started it and found the synopsis and first three chapters of my WIP laying on top of the dishes from the previous night’s spaghetti dinner. What complicated scene or plot point I was working out in my head when I did that, I don’t have a frigging clue.
Then there was the time I searched high and low in my office, trying to find my reading glasses. Thinking perhaps I left them by the sink when I went to refill my glass of water–it was water, honest–I headed for the kitchen and found the ice cream sitting on the counter. Not only didn’t I remember putting it there, but I don’t even like Rocky Road. And when I opened the freezer to put it back, what did I find? You guessed it. My glasses were saving the ice cream’s spot on the freezer shelf. Again, what I could have possibly been writing at the time I did this completely escapes me.
Another reason writers should never clean house is that it never accomplishes anything. When I revised a chapter while working on my new book, Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny, I knew without a doubt if I came back to that chapter a week or even a month later, it would still be revised, all the words exactly where I left them. Not true of my house. I can clean it until it’s spotless, look up from my computer in a day or two, and it’s a mess again. How the hell does that happen? My editor tells me it’s a bad practice to keep repeating myself in my writing. But if I do it with housework, won’t it become a habit? Best not to risk it.
Now, every once in a while, when I absolutely can’t stand it anymore, I have no choice but to clean it. So then I use shortcuts–that way I can get back to the important stuff, like writing. For example, I have found the easiest and fastest way to dust is to walk around the house and blow on the furniture. It simple, somewhat effective, and doesn’t require me to track down the duster, which is probably stashed in the refrigerator, anyway.
Besides, since the house is already a disaster, why should I even bother to clean it? My significant other’s in the military, and every available surface is covered in army stuff piled on top of army stuff. If I do eventually manage to clean off an area, he just brings in more army junk and fills it back up again. He’s also a car buff, so any place that isn’t heaped with army shit is stuffed with car crap. I have a beautiful glass and oak coffee table in my living room. At least I think I do. I used to. I haven’t actually seen it in months since it’s buried under a mountain of…man stuff. It’s gotten so bad that when he leaves on a field mission and takes most of the duffle bags and big stuff with him, the cats have so much more room to play, they think we’ve moved to a bigger house.
However, I do have a plan. I’m a house plant fanatic. I love them, and I’m always finding another one that just has to come home with me. So, I figure I’ll just fill my house up with so many plants, eventually they’ll spread and cover all the piles–sort of like those evergreen blackberry vines that will grow to cover everything, including you if you stand still long enough–so even though I won’t have any more room in my house, at least I won’t have to look at the mess.
© 2011 by Pepper O’Neal