If I’d been more serious about writing a book years ago, I’d have a much cleaner house. No, not because I would have sold millions and been able to afford a full-time housekeeper. The good news/bad news is that I could have accomplished the turbo-clean without publication.
It seems that all I have to do is sit at my computer, lift my hands to the keyboard a la concert pianist, and dust bunnies start multiplying before my eyes. I notice the coffee cup rings on my desk, the cat hair floating lyrically to the brick floors, the sun glistening on the polished wood floors which are almost now evenly covered with their protective layer of microscopic crud, the open-mouthed toilets–not even in view–are taunting me. Yesterday, after 30.6 seconds in front of the monitor, I pounced up to (gasp) vacuum. And (double gasp) I walked/ran on the treadmill.
Writing is lonely. Not counting the two cats, both of which are mildly neurotic (save me the animals reflect their owners psychobabble….you’re doing it anyway, aren’t you?), it’s just me, my lukewarm cup of coffee, and stacks of papers. Not that I’d want an audience. Might make for a quirky SNL skit though. Massive desk, state of the art computer, spotlight on the keyboard, writer dressed in tuxedo (yes, women can wear tuxedos) slowly walks on stage, gently slides back ergonomically designed chair, flips on the monitor and starts his/her fingers dancing on the keyboard. The audience follows his/her progress on the large screen projected to the right and back of the writer. Chapter ends. Applause.
But, seriously, what I did not understand until I came to the keyboard in pursuit of writing with the intent to actually produce something publishable, is that while I may be surrounded by external silence, my head is crammed with uninvited guests. In one corner, the petulant children whining about where they’d rather be, asking why we’re spending so much time sitting in this boring room when it’s really such a pretty day outside and we could being doing something like pulling weeds. In another corner, the brats who are causing all sorts of trouble with house cleaning distractions, playing with the telephone reminding me of calls I should be making, telling me I need to compulsively check my email because the editor whose name I added an extra “s” to might be knocked off his chair by my query, completely overlook my written lisp, and be attaching a contract AT THIS VERY NANOSECOND (brats scream…yeesh). And somewhere, roaming around aimlessly, is the worrywart aunt, wearing mismatched ankle socks with her orthopedic shoes, wondering about the physical and mental healths of my immediate family, genoicide, taxes, and world peace. The worst of the pack is the sneering and arrogant bullies, rocking back on their chairs asking me who I think I am that I could be on a bookshelf with the likes of ___________(insert almost any author’s name here), don’t I know that I’m justateacher. Just when I quiet everyone else, one of the bullies yawns and stretches to his/her nine feet tall self, looks at me, and laughs. It’s then I realize that the only way to shut them up is to drown them in words and sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters. And when I’m finally there, I’m going to throw my book at them.
So, is the choice thin with an immaculate house and no book? Or lumpy with dust layers protecting the furniture and possible publication? Is that why book jackets rarely show full body photos of the writers? And how many writer’s cribs are featured on those house shows? I just may be able to pull this one off. . .