Saturday, March 12, 2011

Clearing Out The Cobwebs

Laundry defeats me. Granted with a full house I have a ton to do, but you’d think I’d be used to that by now. No such luck. No matter how prepared I think I am it sneaks up on my anyway. And then, there I am under the avalanche. . .again.
Then the piles begin.
My dining room is not a dining room anymore, but laundry central. And the table? The command center. A very pretty folding station, sure, but still. . .
Thank God for big tables and gorgeous wainscoting. Otherwise, it would feel like exactly what it is. . .a trench. A glorified battle station where I fight the good fight, but never win.
Who here can relate? If you can’t, raise your hand. . .so I can shoot you!
Nah, seriously. My weapon’s holstered, no need to worry because I have a point. . .really I do. And here it is. . .
All that laundry--and the fact it hardly ever gets put away in its proper place--got me thinking about clutter. Not just the kind in our homes, but also the kind that takes over our heads. All that noise, chatter. . .the relentless blah, blah, blah we writers subject ourselves to on a regular basis. For the most part, mine’s relentlessly positive. The cheerleading type of rah, rah, rah that gets me up every morning at 5 a.m. to bang out the words that will eventually come together and form a novel. The ‘Go me, you can do it!’ kind of stuff.
But, every once in a while I find myself slipping and the “blues” role in, like fog on a once crisp landscape. It obscures the view, makes me lose my way and the positive chatter becomes something else entirely. And then the question comes. . .the why the hell do I do this to myself everyday? that a writer hates to hear. When that grabs hold, I’ll admit it takes an all battle stations alert to combat that voice. My little soldiers scramble to repeal the attack, and sometimes it takes them a day or two (maybe even a week) to beat back the invading force.

For me, it all comes down to house cleaning. . .the mental kind. If I can keep the dust bunnies and the cobwebs to a minimum inside my head, the enemy (all that writers angst) can’t accumulated enough ammunition for the Shock and Awe campaign I wage with myself every once in a while. And that means taking inventory. . .understanding who I am and what I need. Knowing when it’s time to push ahead, slow down, indulge in a good book or movie or a day with a friend without guilt. When you give yourself what you need by acknowledging a weakness--and turn to face it head-on--it loses the power to persuade. In other words, it can’t take you by surprise. And that’s what an ambush is all about, isn’t it?
So, here’s a question for you. How do you keep the “uglys” away? Chocolate?  Exercise? Mental sand bags? We all have a method that works for us. Maybe by sharing ours, we can help each other stay focused while running the road in the great, big crazy world we call publishing.


  1. Boy do I understand this feeling! I think the best thing is to acknowledge that the feelings are there and let them have their say, for a little while. Pushing them aside just makes them come back stronger at a later date. :) Somehow the next day seems better.

    You're right about the importance of knowing when to push ahead or indulge ourselves. I need a day today to step aside from constantly thinking about writing. It's hard to do, because my brain keeps chugging along, but it needs a little vacay. So it's off to enjoy the spring weather. :)


  2. Did you see the new product on the market? Some sort of laundry sheet that absorbs dyes so you don't have to separate colours any more. I've been reluctant to try it so far, but one of these days...BTW, I'm reading blogs in between loads!

  3. Great analogy - dust bunnies in the mind. Yeah, get those too. I force myself to exercise at least two hours a day. Most of the time I'm (relatively) successful. Usually when I come back, my mind is clearer. Chocolate and good friends help too. :-)

  4. Journaling/morning pages are great for clearing those mental dust bunnies. But I really love your idea of "understanding who you are and what you need".

  5. I don't always manage to keep the uglies away to be honest. I succumb to feelings that I suck all the time. But maybe after a day or so, my mood improves and I try again. Lovely post you have here.

  6. Oh, I'm in the same boat; my family's clean clothes spend way more time in the laundry basket than in their closets. :-) And as for keeping the uglys at bay ... I've kinda learned that for me, they're just going to happen, and that when they do it's often a sign I need to step away from the writing for a few hours or days and go do something else to fill that creative well.
    Great post!

  7. I DESPISE laundry! And it shows! Lol! I have huge piles of laundry that I mainly just get to the top layer and the poor, unfortunate clothing on the bottom may never see the light of day. I'm still waiting for the Laundry Fairy to come rescue me.
    Ugh, I have yet to figure out how to keep the uglys at bay. I'm waiting for the Cobweb Fairy to come and clear everything out so my brain and fingers have a direct path and everything will just flow out! hehe

  8. The uglies took over and are running my life right now, but I have every intention of taking it back next week when I go on vacation. I really need a break from all of this and get back to my roots. Need to get centered.

  9. Well, I love alone so I have less laundry to do than most - but honestly it's one household chore I don't mind that much. And for almost everything else, I have a cleaner! :D

    I also am one of those people who doesn't iron. I do actually own one, but even the garments that need ironing don't get it.

  10. I can most certainly relate! I have a family of 6 and the laundry is a never ending battle.

    On the writing side, I'm now working so many stinking hours I'm scrambling to find the time I need to concentrate long enough to edit/write/rewrite. It's always a challenge. Wayyyyy too many distractions to boot.

    I take things one day at a time. On the days where stuff starts to seep in, I choose angry music. It drowns out the goonies!

  11. Can't say. I tend to try everything until something works.


  12. Ah, those darn stupid doubt weasels. Hate them, I do.

    I wish I had a clear-cut way to defeat them, but I still have my own raging battles from time to time. I think the biggest thing is making time we DO still clear out enough time in our life for other stuff. The doubt weasels have a nasty tendency to show up right around the same time that burn-out starts to rear it's ugly head--just sayin'.

  13. I still haven't solved this one, haven't yet found the 'fount of eternal work ethic'. Though oddly enough I have the laundry thing sorted, maybe because we only have one child, and there's only so much laundry a family of three can generate!

    Please don't think the rest of my house echoes the tidiness of my laundry though; I'm sitting at the kitchen table amidst a mess of discarded newspapers, bills for querying and raffle tickets to sell...Hmmm, my kitchen table is in about the same state as my WIP actually.