When you set out to conquer your version of “the world” you pretty much know up front that it isn’t going to be easy. You know that there is very little help to be had, few people are in your corner, and the road is all uphill.
I’m here to tell you that the climb is brutal…but the destination is worth it.
No, I haven’t reached mine yet but I can see it out there – on the horizon – just waiting for me. That place I imagine, located somewhere green and peaceful, motivates me to keep going when I’m way too tired and keep writing when I know I need to clean house.
Once upon a time, I was a neat freak. True story. Some of my earliest memories as a toddler involve me using masking tape to edge the carpet along the walls in my aunt’s house (the wicked one – not the good one). It was the only way to remove all the dirt and even though I couldn’t quite brush my long hair by myself, I knew any dust I left behind would be detected and I’d be severely punished.
Punishment might include time in a dark closet or a beating or another skipped meal – but what it was didn’t matter nearly as much to me as the anxiety of waiting to see if she would “find” dust in a place I knew there was none.
Throughout my life, I remained diligent about “dust” and “mess” in an effort to maintain those impossible standards of an immaculate home instilled in me by a woman who was psychotic and suffered from a god complex.
Fast forward to the birth of my son, then my daughter, then the addition of my step-daughter.
If you’re a parent, you know what I’m about to say. A child can walk into a spotless room and deconstruct it within five minutes. For years, I struggled to cook and clean and have the best-folded laundry in the whole world. I did not put my kids to work other than to help pick up their toys. The cycle did not repeat.
When other people – say, a husband – attempted to help me fold laundry, I would lose it if the towels were not folded in threes and facing the same way. I have many times pulled every single linen from a closet and refolded them all to fit in precise piles – generally color-coded.
But wait…this isn’t the Shayne we know!
You’re right. When I lost my job, my initial reaction was to be the bestest housewife/mom ever and search for another crappy job I was sure to hate but would have decent benefits. I cooked, cleaned, and otherwise “faked” happy for weeks.
Then one day, Cinderella got a fucking grip.
I sat down at my computer and started to write. It had taken me more than ten years to write “In the Service of Women” between mom and job duties. Once I no longer had a job, I completed “The Barter System” in about two weeks. Then I wrote “Ready to Rumble” in two days…and on and on and on.
From December 2010 until right now, I’ve written more than four million words. I do not believe a single day has gone by in the last two-plus years that I have not written at least an idea down to work on later.
There was fall-out. My house is dusty. There are clean baskets of laundry everywhere in my family room. I often forget to make dinner. I cannot remember the last time I sent a birthday card on time or didn’t have to be reminded about an appointment.
I clean my kitchen so there is always space in a sterile area for me to make coffee. I clean the bathrooms. Other than that? Nope.
Once upon a time, I was Cinderella. It didn’t do a damn thing for me but give me whiter whites and sparkling glassware. I was neither happier nor more fulfilled and it robbed me (along with many other things) of my time to write.
Now? I’m a writer and the one luxury item I will one day allow myself is a cleaning service to come in once a week and take care of my floors and dusting. I will pay them with a smile and I will tip. BIG.
My kids and pets are important – I’m still a dash of Mary Poppins.
As for the rest – you cannot eat off my floors. In all seriousness, why the hell would you want to eat off my floors? Yeah, I don’t get that either. It smells fresh (thanks Tidy Cat and Febreeze), looks halfway decent for the most part, and isn’t a hoarder den. Score!
Now…back to work! This plot isn’t going to write itself. *wink*